The Grieg-French-Bell Grove
Length 0.6 mi · Climbing 10 ft
Although the Grieg-French-Bell grove has some nice trees, it's most remarkable for its incredibly thick and dense groundcover of redwood sorrel. The grove is located near the northern edge of the park and so gets more of the fog that creeps south from the sea along the Eel River valley. Dew deposited by the fog seems to encourage the unusually lush groundcover, which is almost pure sorrel. The sorrel completely covers a forest floor that, unusually, consists of little rolling mounds, and also covers fallen logs.
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An unnamed trail cuts through the grove. From the pulloff on the Avenue of the Giants, the most prominent trail leads straight into the woods, first passing through the cathedral-like Grieg grove, an impressive stand of large trees with a large area that's been cleared of sorrel by foot traffic. The trail then curves off to the right, passing the French Grove with its ghastly but still-living Girdled Tree. The bark of this huge tree was mostly removed in 1901 so that San Franciscans could marvel at the magnificence of the redwoods. From this point a spur trail leads off to the Bell Grove, skirting an ever-gloomier second-growth forest along the way. With old growth on one side of the trail and second growth on the other, you can see just how dramatic a difference logging makes to the appearance of a forest.
Much more enjoyable than the main trail is the network of unofficial trails that starts to the right of the main trail. Most maps show an official trail in this area, but the trail is now indistinguishable from the many other paths worn into the sorrel. The narrow paths lead off in all directions through the most attractive and densely-carpeted part of the grove, encouraging aimless wandering. It's hard to get really lost since the grove is not very big and the Avenue of the Giants is always nearby. Look out for the occasional sprig of poison oak hiding among the sorrel.
© 2007 David Baselt