What? : The short 1.7 mile out and back Grove of Titans Trail is probably the most popular trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, here you can see up close the largest redwood in volume on the plant.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park has a lot of uninterrupted old Redwood growth and considered to be one of the most unspoiled redwood parks. The Grove of Titans Trail was recently re-constructed and at the main Redwood grove section there is an uplift walkway deck trail to reduce the damage to the environment, protect the ferns and the trees.
One main forest road crosses the park with only few hiking trails, the Boy Scout Tree Trail is really the only trail that take visitor into the park’s interior. Few other shorter trails explore the Redwood groves, Grove of the Titans will take you to the largest redwood in volume on the plant.
This location is part of my "Redwood Parks at Northern California Coastline" road-trip suggestion:
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. This specific hike trailhead is located on the main forest road that crosses the park east-west.
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: The metal mesh walkway, although not “natural” enable visitors to walk inside the grove without creating damage to the area.
Due note 5: The trail is not wheelchair accessible and as all singletrack trails in the redwoods, bikes and dogs are not allowed.
Due note 6: Restrooms are located at the trailhead.
Due note 7: This trail is popular and can be crowded, find a parking spot on roadside and make sure you do not block traffic.
My thoughts: Howland Hill drive is one of the most beautiful drives I did among the giant redwood trees and this hike is probably the most beautiful among all the hikes I did in this park. It is not long, and after 20 min hike you will reach the main redwood grove where you can see the amazing large trees.
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.
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.
Detailed driving directions to Grove of Titans Trailhead:
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.
From this point you need to drive 2.6 miles to the trailhead (the trailhead is on your left and restrooms are on your right.
On your drive down into the forest you will pass the Boy Scout Tree Trailhead (after 1.9 miles), do not confuse between the two trails.
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. From this point it is 2 miles drive to the trailhead, it is just after crossing a big bridge over Mill Creek.
The Grove of Titans Trail hike:
This is short 1.7 miles, out and back hike with 200 ft elevation climb, the trail is in very good condition and even small children can make it.
You start your hike at the main park road trailhead and soon after you will get into the deep forest.
After crossing a trail bridge and few stirs the trail start to climb the mountain side.
The forest in this section is nice and it is fun to walk and see the trees and ferns. After short hike you will start to walk down toward the direction of the main redwood grove. This grove location, in a sheltered glen with little creek flowing through, is far from the main road and you do not hear the cars.
You will first pass the large log that is on the ground where root trees and ferns are covering the logs.
Soon after and you will reach the start of metal mesh walkway path that is clearly marked with large iron stands on both sides.
This section of the trail was re-open to public access in 2021, and the total cost of the project was $3.5 million.
The 1,300-foot-long boardwalk through the Grove of Titans prevents soil compression and long-term damage to ferns and the trees.
The first and most impressive large tree that you will see is the huge Chesty Puller tree, it is so big at the ground level that is looks like a building, the trail get around is and you can really appreciate the tree size from the other side.
After crossing the low section, the trail split. Take the short trail to the right and get to the platform with a view of Mill Creek.
Walk back to the main trail and head to the heart of the grove, after short walk you will pass the 25 feet in diameter tree, this is Lost Monarch tree, it is the world’s 5th-largest coast redwood by volume.
Keep walking and you will see a trail leading to the left, take it and it will take you to a nice tree grove and the end of the trail.
If you keep walking on the main trail you will get to the ending of the boardwalk, when I visit here (Sep. 2022) the Mill Creek trail down the river was close at this point for maintenance.
Enjoy your stay at this location and once you are done you can walk back the same way you hike into the forest.