Update: Last time I visit this park was at Sep. 2022
What? : Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park has a lot of uninterrupted old Redwood growth and considered to be one of the most unspoiled redwood parks. One main forest road cross the park with only few hiking trails. The Boy Scout Tree Trail is practically the only long trail that take visitor into the park’s interior.
Few other shorter trails explore the Redwood groves, Grove of the Titans trail will take you to the largest redwood tree in volume on the plant.
This blog is part of my "Redwood Parks at Northern California Coastline" road-trip suggestions and trip planner blog.
Where? : The Park is located few miles east of Crescent City and highway 101 at the most Northern West corner of California, around 2 hour’s drive north of Eureka.
When? : Year round, Summer temperatures range from 45 to 85 degrees, Winter can bring 100 inches of rain and temperatures between 30 and 65 degrees; snow at this low elevation is rare.
Due note 1: Camping at one of the 89 sites is available, reservations are recommended between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Due note 2: The short trails and the popular redwood groves like Grove of the Titans and Stout Grove can be crowded with many visitors and full parking lots.
Due note 3: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is part several others redwood state and National parks that stretch up at the Northern California's coast and protect the remaining of the old growth Redwoods trees.
Due note 4: In Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park you can find the largest in volume Redwood trees on earth (Grove of the Titans).
My thoughts: Howland Hill drive is one of the most beautiful drives I did among the giant redwood trees. The Park unpaved road wind through the lash redwood forest. The Park has several hiking options, during my short visit I hiked the 5.7-mile-long Boy Scout Tree Trail and enjoy my time with the redwoods. Unfortunately I did not hiked the Grove of the Titans that is probably must visit park short trail.
California’s coast redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) exist in a narrow band that runs for 500 miles from Monterey to just over the Oregon border. The redwoods follow the rain and fog at elevations below 2,000 feet, where heavy winter rains and moderate year-round temperatures occur. Trees can grow up to 350 feet tall or more, with a base diameter of about 20 feet.
Redwoods are “living fossils” dating back 100 million years to the Cretaceous Period- the time of the dinosaurs. The oldest coast redwoods are about 2,000 years old.
As result of extensive logging activity in Between 1880 and the early 1900s, thousands of acres of old-growth redwoods had disappeared; Series of state and national parks in northern California protect the remaining of the old-growth Redwoods.
In 1994, NPS and California State Parks agreed to co-manage four parks: Del Norte Coast, Prairie Creek and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks, and Redwood National Park. Managing the parks together provides protection and preservation of more than 105,000 acres of redwood forest.
After the logging only about 5% of old growth Redwood exist today, 95% of them are in northern California and 80% of them are already protected in one of the parks.
Detailed driving directions:
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is about an hour and 45 minutes north of Eureka. Driving north from Eureka, highway 101 reach Crescent City beaches. Turn right onto Humboldt Road and once reaching to it end turn right into Howland Hill Road. You’ll pass a casino on your left side and then the road climb into Jedediah Smith Redwoods. At the top of Howland Hill drive the road turns into a well-maintained dirt road and at this point the drive will take you into the redwoods forest.
You can also drive to the park east-side entrance: from highway 101, after Crescent City, drive east on highway 199. After passing Jedediah Smith Campground turn right into 427 side road, you will cross 2 large bridges over the Smith River fork and then turn right into Douglass Park Dr., this road will pass house section and soon after you get to the park east entrance.
At the confluence of the Smith River and Mill Creek, few miles inland from the ocean, the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park protects 10,000 acres of primeval redwood groves and a lush undergrowth of ferns. The Park contains and preserve 7% of all the old-growth redwoods left in the world.
The Park is not so much developed, and most trails are short within the old redwood groves near the road, you can stop at the different parking lots and enjoy the short and easy hike among the giant trees.
Driving through the park:
Howland Hill Road passes through the center of the park from west to east, this is probably the best redwood drives I experienced in all my redwood parks visits. Narrow unpaved 6-mile-long road that will take you into the redwood forest and wind itself between the towering trees.
When coming from the west and entering the park you will immediately pass through a remarkable cluster of monster trees, your car perspective to the tree trunk shows how large they are.
You will drive between the forest trees in sections where you will be surrounded by the lush car tall fern.
After 15 minutes’ drive down the road you will reach on your left Boy Scout Tree Trail trailhead.
From this point to the east the road levels out, you will reach the Grove of the Titans.
This is a very popular section of the park, here you can walk into the old grove that has the largest, in volume, redwood trees on earth.
In 2021 the park opened the Grove of Titans walkway (1.7 miles). In order to prevent soil compression and long-term damage, the trail was elevated slightly on a metal mesh walkway. Here you will pass by the huge trees and enjoy their view.
This section is popular and can be crowded.
The Boy Scout Tree Trail (5.2 miles):
A fun out-and-back hike that proceeds through a variety of redwood environments, huge ancient redwoods, higher elevation smaller trees to a mixed-species forest dotted with redwoods.
The hike starts at the park road trailhead, where the most impressive redwoods are located. From this valley, easy climb to the hillside and soon you will reach the ridge line.
From here the trail descends, still in a redwood forest with smaller in size trees, after short walk the trail reaches a stream. Here at the lower elevations the trail leaves the dense redwood grove and enters a lush, diverse woodland. When visiting here at late fall (Oct. 2021) I enjoyed the maples trees yellow colors.
Keep hiking down the trail and after 2.6 miles from your starting point you will reach a small waterfall, Fern Fall. Not so much impressive waterfall but the hike itself is the goal.
The waterfall is the end of the trail, and you need to hike back the same trail you hiked in. First climbing back to the ridgetop and then short hike to the trailhead at the park road.
In our Sep. 2022 visit we hiked the following trails:
Grove of the Titan Trail:The short 1.7 mile out and back Grove of Titans Trail is probably the most popular and rewording trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, here you can see up close the largest redwood in volume on the plant.
I wrote a dedicated blog about this hike, link to the blog.
Nickerson Ranch Trail:
The trailhead is located west of Boy Scout Tree Trailhead and on the opposite side of the road.
This one mile out and back trail will lead you into the woods all the way to the creek stream.
There are some nice old trees along the trail but i think that you should do this trail only if you have time and you visit first the Grove of the Titan and Boy Scout trails.
Pictures from our Sep 2022 visit:
Pictures from our Sep 2022 visit: