The Franklin K. Lane grove is the southernmost redwood grove in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The grove gets a steady trickle of visitors, mainly because it’s the first attraction that northbound drivers encounter. Although the grove is strikingly lush for this part of Humboldt Redwoods, most of its trees are not as impressive as those a few miles further north. A dense, jungle-like understory of smaller trees prevents the grove from developing the cathedral-like appearance characteristic of Humboldt’s best redwood groves. Nonetheless, it’s still a fine-looking grove.
No roadsigns mark the grove, but it’s hard to miss; just look for a big, circular dirt parking lot off the Avenue of the Giants just north of Philipsville. Somewhat unusually, the Avenue skirts the redwood grove rather than going through it, so you can’t see much from the road. There’s a grassy area with a picnic bench, and a small post marks the trailhead.
Here’s the trailhead location in Google Maps.
The trail starts out as an unpromising track through a disheveled grove of small redwoods with no groundcover or understory, just a lot of fallen branches. After a few yards, though, the trail approaches a 3-foot-tall embankment that’s covered with a lush green carpet of redwood sorrel and ferns. The trail then splits; the right fork climbs the embankment and suddenly enters a much lusher and more attractive environment. This is the most impressive part of the grove, with large redwoods set into a think carpet of sorrel and plenty of ferns. There’s also a dense understory of bay trees and a lot of poison oak. It’s unclear why this part of the grove is so dramatically different.
An unofficial trail that crosses the main trail is actually an old alignment of the Avenue of the Giants.
The trail climbs gently, reaching a steep hillside that defines the limit of the grove. Some stumps are visible on the hillside and at the base of the hill. The trail turns left, curving around the base of the hill and soon beginning a slight descent. The woods get gradually less impressive and there are few big trees near the end, although there are a lot of large fallen logs. Poison oak is especially bad in this last stretch.
© 2007, 2012, 2017 David Baselt