Branching directly off of busy Highway 199 is a trail that’s so forgotten and little-used that it doesn’t even have an official name. Although it’s an official trail, there are no signs to indicate its presence. There isn’t even any way to safely pull off the road at the trailhead; the shoulders are too narrow to allow you to pull off the pavement, and traffic speeds by at 70 mph. Visiting this trail means taking your life in your hands.
Given that it crosses an alluvial bench within Jed Smith’s legendary old growth, right next to the Simpson-Reed Trail, the trail to Adams Grove is surprisingly un-spectacular. There are only a few scattered redwoods along most of the trail. The only significant sight is the very end of the trail, where the trail drops into a small depression with a small old-growth redwood grove which, I presume, is the actual Adams Grove. It’s actually a really nice grove, but it doesn’t compare to the nearby (and much safer to visit) groves along Walker Road.
Start at the Ernest L. & Lou R. Adams Grove sign on the westbound side of Highway 199. At the trailhead there’s a narrow stub of a dirt road where you can park. It’s at a right angle to the highway and slopes steeply down. I always back in so that when I leave I don’t have to back out onto the highway.
The trail itself is surprisingly clear; it actually seems to get some use. It passes through unexceptional mixed woodland, the traffic noise gradually fading away. Nearing the river, it drops down into a little redwood-filled hollow. The traffic noise completely drops away at this point.
Two side trails lead toward the river, but one of them is on a high ridge with cliffs on either side, while the other disappears in a jumble of brush; there’s no way to reach the river.
A faint shortcut trail climbs through the redwood grove back to the main trail. It’s not clear if this is an unofficial trail or if at the trail is supposed to be a lollipop loop.
The map in the park brochure shows a second unnnamed trail parallel to the Adams Grove Trail and about three-quarters of a mile to the east. As far as I can tell, no such trail exists.
There’s also a second Ernest L. & Lou R. Adams Grove in Jedediah Smith, on Walker Road opposite the Leiffer/Ellsworth trailhead; a short unofficial trail runs through it.
© 2020 David Baselt