Howland Hills Road — Simpson-Reed Grove Trail — Campground
October 2005 – Our first excursion after arriving in Crescent City was a trip into the heart of the park via Howland Hills Road, a very narrow, winding drive, but well worth the trip.
Obviously no motor homes or trailers allowed on this tiny, twisty road! When we reached particularly tight spots, Mom kept exclaiming “What are you going to do if someone comes from the other way??” Thank goodness, whenever we did meet someone else head on, it was always at a time when one could pull over.
And of course it took us a while since we had to keep stopping for some tree hugs!
We walked among these giants in the Simpson-Reed Grove.
From info sign:
You are in the midst of an ancient redwood forest. Here, you will see trees of many ages that create a multi-layered forest ceiling or canopy. You will also see many large fallen trees in various stages of decay, and standing trees that are several hundred years old. As you stroll along this 1/2 mile loop trail, you will discover some of the special features of this old-growth redwood forest and experience the inspirational qualities that helped champion its protection.
Mom had to keep touching them to make sure they were real and she was really with them.
We both got cricks in our necks from looking up trying to see the tops of these massive redwoods.
Some of them were badly burned and hollowed out following forest fires or lightening strikes, but the coastal redwoods are so resilient that they can remain standing.
I was fascinated by this tree. I guess it was a victim of fire or lightening, which hollowed it out at the base, but left the two parts straddling this path. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the coloring and designs left by the fire was breathtakingly beautiful.
A view from the bottom – this is what remains of the shallow root system after one has fallen – still an awe inspiring creature that then nourishes new growth in the forest.
From info sign: Shallow Roots Support These Giants
Look up. These are some of the world’s tallest trees. Some coast redwoods can be 360′ tall. Surprisingly, supporting these tall trees is a shallow root system like that of the fallen tree behind you. Redwood roots extend only about 6 to 10′ into the ground. How could this be? In the Redwood region, there is plentiful water close to the ground’s surface. Since water is readily available at the surface, redwoods do not need to have a deep root system. A shallow root system makes redwoods vulnerable to high winds and floods. However, their roots can spread hundreds of feet from the tree and join with neighboring trees creating a web for extra support.
This is another great trail through Stout Grove that you get to from Howland Hill Road. I was escorted on this great walk by my friend Hank when I lived in the Ashland, OR area. He used to be a tour guide and insisted it was not a spot to be missed. Thanks, Hank – you were certainly right on!
The campground at Jedediah Smith State Park is one of the few in California I’ve seen so far that has at least a few sites that can handle a 36′ motorhome. When I first drove through there in the summer of 2005, it was pretty crowded and I remember thinking I wouldn’t want to maneuver through those little lanes around those big trees. But when I went again in October, it was pretty much deserted and if I hadn’t already been so comfortably settled in at the Crescent City KOA, I probably would have given it a try. This was one of the few campers I saw – he was backed in to Site #55 right on the Smith River.
This is site 58. Sites 43 and 54 and 58 were also marked to accommodate larger RVs.
Next – Fern Canyon
All Malia’s Miles Redwoods pages:
Main page (LBJ Grove) — Jedediah Smith State Park
Newton Drury Scenic Byway (Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park)
Fern Canyon (Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park)
Avenue of the Giants (Humboldt Redwoods State Park)
Trees of Mystery
More Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Info:
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (CA State Parks)
Redwood Hikes – Has great maps and pictures of Howland Hill Road and the hiking trails in this area.
Howland Hill Road Scenic Drive (NPS) – Just a couple miles west of Crescent City, an unpaved stretch of Howland Hill Road offers motorists an intimate encounter with the towering old-growth redwoods in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Numerous pull-outs and trailheads along the way, including the Boy Scout Tree Trail and Stout Grove.