★★★★★

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

The most scenic redwoods

California > Redwood National and State Parks

Howland Hill Road

Bright, open, and lush, Jed Smith’s redwood groves are the most scenic in existence. The park has trees of truly stupendous size: not as tall as the redwoods to the south, but bigger in diameter. Somewhere in the park is the largest coast redwood by volume, a tree that’s exceeded in size, and not by much, by only seven giant sequoias. And with exceptional variety in the color, texture, and size of the trees, and even in the understory vegetation, the woods are an interesting place to hike.

With its huge swath of uninterrupted old growth, Jedediah Smith is also the most unspoiled redwood park. In fact its main drawback, at least from a hikers’ perspective, is that it’s too undeveloped. The Boy Scout Tree Trail is really the only trail that lets hikers get a look at the magnificent redwood scenery in the park’s interior. With few trails available, the top trails attract a lot of visitors.

Drives

★★★★★

Howland Hill Road

Length 6 mi

One of the best redwood drives anywhere, this single-lane gravel road runs through an otherworldly landscape of monster trees.

Old-growth redwood trails

★★★★★

Boy Scout Tree Trail

Length 5.3 mi · Climbing 750 ft

An extraordinary out-and-back hike through a showcase of the world’s best redwood scenery.

★★★★★

Grove of Titans

Length 1.7 mi · Climbing 200 ft

A very scenic grove with some of the world’s largest known redwoods by volume.

★★★★★

Stout Grove

Length 0.6 mi · Climbing 40 ft

This small grove by the side of the Smith River is the most scenic stand of redwoods. Gets somewhat crowded on summer weekends.

★★★★

Mill Creek Trail

Length 7.4 mi · Climbing 250 ft

An out-and-back hike mostly through mundane streamside vegetation, except it includes the famous Grove of Titans and a superb, relatively little-visited grove just across from Stout Grove.

★★★

Hatton Trail

Length 4.3 mi · Climbing 360 ft

Climbs a hillside above Highway 199 into sun-dappled redwood uplands. The scenery is great, but there’s traffic noise throughout.

★★★

Nickerson Ranch Trail

Length 2.6 mi · Climbing 110 ft

Starting along the banks of Mill Creek, this hike leads to an impressive lowland redwood grove just across the road from the Boy Scout Tree Trail.

★★★

Leiffer and Ellsworth Loops

Length 2.1 mi · Climbing 330 ft

These little-used loops start at scenic Walker Road and pass through remarkably lush old-growth lowlands before climbing a hillside into more mundane uplands.

★★★

Simpson-Reed Trail

Length 0.9 mi · Climbing 20 ft

A short roadside loop with an unusually dense, jungle-like look.

Adams Grove

Length 0.6 mi · Climbing 20 ft

Branching directly off of busy Highway 199 is a forgotten, little-used trail that doesn’t have an official name. There isn’t even any way to safely pull off the road at the trailhead.

Other trails

★★

Hiouchi Trail

Length 4.4 mi · Climbing 420 ft

Follows the Smith River, mostly through uninteresting mixed-species forest at the edge of the old growth redwoods.

Mill Creek Horse Trail

Length 10.4 mi · Climbing 1970 ft

Mostly unattractive second-growth, but with two short sections of old growth, one of which is actually pretty magnificent.

Little Bald Hills Trail

Length 9.8 mi · Climbing 1600 ft

Climbs out of Jed Smith’s old-growth redwoods and through lush fir groves before entering a sparse hilltop pine forest.

Craigs Creek Trail

Length 7.7 mi · Climbing 1470 ft

A little-used trail in the Six Rivers National Forest that rises and falls through an interesting variety of woodland before descending to the confluence of two rivers.

Wellman Loop Trail

Length 1.5 mi · Climbing 470 ft

Climbs through unspectacular redwood uplands, then descends through dense non-redwood forest. Located across Highway 199 from the campground.

Drive-in campgrounds

★★★★★

Jedediah Smith Campground

Open all year · $35/night + $8

This is the only place in Redwood National and State Parks where you can actually camp among old-growth redwoods.

★★

Florence Keller Regional Park

Open all year · $15/night · no reservations

A cheap place to stay in the redwoods that usually has spots available.

Ruby van Deventer County Park

Open all year · $15/night · no reservations

A small campground in a thin strip of second-growth redwoods between a road and the Smith River.

Sand Camp River Access

Open all year · Free · no reservations

This isn’t actually a campground, but in the Six Rivers National Forest, you can camp almost anywhere you want for free.

Backpacking campgrounds

★★★★

Little Bald Hills Backcountry Camp

Open all year · Free

This is a nice campground on a quiet, remote hilltop, but unless you just want a quiet place to camp there isn’t much reason to hike up here.

The Del Norte Titan, one of the largest coast redwoods by volume


 

© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2021 David Baselt