Since National Geographic has featured the incredible redwood trees of Northern California on the cover of this month’s magazine I figured I would go ahead and post a travelog on the trip my wife and I took through the region last year after we returned to the US from Australia. My wife and I had seen the redwood trees four years prior to this most recent trip, but this part of the world is one of the few places I never get tired of visiting. My wife and I drove into Northern California from Oregon on Highway 199 that follows the Smith River:
The drive along this road is extremely scenic and only gets better once it enters into redwood country. This part of the redwood country is known as the Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, which can be seen on the below map in the far north of California:
There is a visitor center along the highway that is well worth visiting that explains the history of these famous redwoods. The California gold rush in the mid-1800’s brought a huge population increase to California which meant people needed more wood for homes and businesses. This is what began the massive logging of the redwood trees. After the gold rush this influx of people needed work and businessmen in California saw their chance to score their own gold rush with commercial logging. Thus this large pool of man power was unleashed on California’s redwood forests. Today only 5% of the redwoods that once spanned in distance from just south of San Francisco all the way to southern Oregon in the mid-1800’s is alive today.
Anyway from the visitor center my wife and I then drove down a dirt road off the highway that took us deep into redwood country:
The redwoods along the road were actually smaller ones compared to the huge old growth redwoods that can be found at the Stout Grove:
The Stout Grove is considered one of the best examples of a grove of redwood trees that are still in existence today and has a nice walking trail that allows visitors to experience up close and personal this incredible part of the park. This grove is really the biggest action of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. In 1929 Mrs. Clara Stout donated the 44 acres of land she owned that contained these incredible trees to the Save the Redwoods League. Mrs. Stout wanted to do something to memorialize her husband’s name plus protect the trees from loggers. The Save the Redwoods League continues to acquire land to this day to expand the size of the park.
Anyway I parked my truck at the Stout Grove parking lot and proceeded to follow the well maintained trail deep into this incredible forest:
If you look closely at the picture above you can see two hikers in front me just absolutely dwarfed by these massive trees. The largest redwoods tend to grow near rivers, which is the case with this grove. This is because when the rivers flood periodically, it deposits rich soil which these redwoods just love. Also due to the frequent flooding of the nearby Smith River, Stout Grove does not have a thick layer of undergrowth like other redwoods groves in California have:
As amazing as these redwood forests are, the movement to protect them began long after most of the trees had already been logged. The first efforts to protect the trees began in 1902 when the Sempervirens Club lobbied the California legislator to start purchasing land to create a redwood state park. The Save the Redwoods League was formed in 1918 and this group was dedicated to acquiring private land with redwood groves in order to convert them into state parks such as the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Despite the efforts at the state level to protect the redwoods, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the national government got involved in the protection of these trees. This national governmental involvment was in response to a National Geographic expedition deep into redwood country that discovered redwood trees taller then any others previously charted. In response to this find Congress created the Redwood National Park in 1968.
Along the trail there is actually a number of gigantic redwoods that have fallen over and their massive hulks just lying on their side was taller than me:
Apparently it was actually quite dangerous in the early days when settlers first started living among the redwoods because the wind often breaks off large branches from the trees that fell and hit people along with the massive trunks of these trees falling on houses. As you can see with the picture above, one of these trees falling on your house would completely destroy it.
Here is a final picture of the couple that was walking in front me dwarfed by one of the smaller redwood trees:
The redwoods trees can grow to over 350 feet (100 meters) and are considered the tallest trees in the world. Pictures in general do not do these redwood trees justice compared to seeing them for yourself in person, but here and here are a couple of the best pictures I have seen that really captures the majesty of these incredible trees. I hope everyone enjoys the pictures I postedand I plan on posting more pictures from redwood country in the coming days.
Next Posting: The Northern California Coast