For a stroll through an old growth grove of coast redwoods, head to the heart of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – Stout Memorial Grove. At just over half a mile in length with 75 feet of elevation change, Stout Memorial Grove Loop Trail offers an easy and enthralling hike through an ancient forest. Century old trees rise hundreds of feet above a lush carpet of ferns to create a enchanting hiking experience.
In 1929, the 44-acre grove was donated to the Save-the-Redwoods League, the principal force behind the preservation of these irreplaceable trees. Clara Stout made the donation, saving the grove from logging while honoring her late husband, Frank D. Stout, for whom the grove is named.
Stout Memorial Trail
Stroll across the rich forest floor through a ferngully-like environment. Redwoods dominate the forest, sparing just enough sunlight for a few saplings to grow. Sword ferns and diminutive redwood sorrel (which resemble oversized clover) make the most of the remaining light, thriving in the shady understory. The open airspace allows you to gaze skyward, craning your neck for a glimpse of the top of one of the 300-foot redwood. If you see something yellow on the ground, it’s not fallen fruit, it’s a banana slugs. These little colorful crawlers can be spotted slipping around the base of the redwoods.
Two junction along the loop allow for additional exploration. If you hike the loop in a clockwise direction. The first junction you reach will connect to Hiouchi Trail and Mill Creek Trail. This track can be used to reach the grove from Jedediah Smith Campground on the north side of the Smith River (useful to those staying overnight in the park). Campers gain about a mile of hiking through redwoods and skip several miles of driving on dusty dirt roads. The second junction is with River Trail, which travels east parallel to the Smith River. Without the extensions, Stout Memorial Grove offers a rich short hike. The forest is unimaginably lush and ancient. This is one of the very best places to experience a coast redwood forest in Northern California.
Standing below a giant coast redwood
To get to the trailhead: Traveling from the south on the 101 Freeway, 2.5 miles south of Crescent City and 18 miles north of Klamath, turn north on Humboldt Road. After 1.5 miles turn right on Howland Hill Road and drive six miles up a dirt road through a redwood forest. Turn left and pull into the parking area for Stout Grove. Traveling from the north on the 101 Freeway, 3.3 miles south of Smith River, turn east on Route 197. After 6.8 miles, turn left on to Route 199 (Redwood Highway). Drive 2.8 miles, passing Jedediah Smith Campground, and turn right on South Fork Road, crossing the Smith River. After half a mile, turn right on Douglas Park Drive and continue 2.3 miles to the turnoff for the Stout Grove Parking Area.
Trailhead address: Douglas Park Drive, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Crescent City, CA 95531
Trailhead coordinates: 41.789697, -124.0847 (41° 47′ 22.90″N 124° 05′ 04.91″W)
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