Loop hike including the Discovery Loop and Upper Loop
Length 1.4 mi · Climbing 20 ft
This easy loop takes you through the best part of Big Hendy Grove.
Start at the picnic area and take the All Access Trail into the woods. You'll soon find yourself among impressive old-growth redwoods. The official trail curves to the right and crosses a dilapidated footbridge across a creekbed that's dry in summer; you'll then have to turn left onto the Discovery Trail, and stay to the right at the first intersection. However, there's also a wide trail worn into the groundcover that shortcuts directly to the Discovery Trail.
At the outset the trail passes some remarkable redwoods. Here along the southwest edge of the grove, the foliage is dense and the forest looks very much like a southern grove, albeit one with unusually big trees. On still days you may hear a hum of traffic noise from Highway 128, but the grove (especially the part nearest the Day Use Area) tends to be very breezy and the wind in the trees usually covers up the traffic noise.
At the next intersection, continue straight, following the sign to the Upper Loop. Somewhat unusually, the groundcover is in places dominated by trillium, growing together with ferns and redwood sorrel.
At the next intersection, you can go straight if you'd like to hike the Back Loop or turn left to stay on the Upper Loop. The Back Loop is longer but less impressive; from Highway 128 you can clearly see how the height of the redwoods tapers off at the southern end of the grove.
The portion of the Upper Loop that runs along the northeast edge of Big Hendy is the most scenic part of the grove and has a strong resemblance to Humboldt Redwoods. The woodland scenery reaches its peak at the second intersection with the Back Loop, where the forest has an open character along with the classic redwood forest groundcover, a plush and unbroken layer of sorrel. The woods get denser as you continue along the Upper Loop, and there are more ferns in the groundcover, but it's still very attractive. At the Discovery Loop the trail jogs to the right and the forest becomes darker and a little less attractive. Return to the Day Use Area on the All Access Trail.
© 2006 David Baselt