The Redwood Nature Trail
The northernmost redwoods
Length 1.1 mi · Climbing 290 ft
The world's northermost redwood grove can be found on a hillside above the Chetco River in Oregon, eight miles north of the California state line. The Redwood Nature Trail winds through the grove, about a half-mile from the northernmost redwood tree. The trail is in the Siskiyou National Forest, but it's often mistakenly assumed to be a part of Loeb State Park, which is just a quarter-mile to the south and can be reached by a short trail.
The grove is a mixed forest of small redwoods interspersed with Douglas-Fir, with an understory of tanoak and huckleberry. Interestingly, and the redwoods get larger and more numerous as the trail climbs above the river; normally it's the opposite, with the largest redwoods at the lowest elevations. No redwoods at all grow on the banks of the Chetco River.
Because it's so close to the popular campground at Loeb State Park, this trail gets a surprising number of visitors - more than a lot of vastly-more-impressive trails at Jed Smith.
Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps.
Take Highway 101 to Brookings, Oregon. The highway crosses the Chetco River on a large, hard-to-miss bridge. Just north of the river, turn (right if you're driving north, left if you're driving south) onto Constitution Way and immediately turn right onto North Bank Chetco River Road, which is a wide, well-maintained road with a double yellow centerline. Continue for 7.5 miles to reach Loeb State Park. A half-mile past the entrance to Loeb State Park and just after the road's double yellow centerline ends, you'll see a little pullout at the Redwood Nature Trail trailhead. Park here.
The trail gets off to a nice start, climbing gently through a lush little glen. Mosses hang from the trees and a creek cascades down a rocky creekbed. Soon you come to a T intersection where a sign directs you to turn left. The trail loops through a forest of tanoak and Douglas-fir. This is the only section of trail that doesn't have any redwoods, and it's also the dryest-looking part.
As the trail climbs, a few redwoods come into view, then become more numerous. The trees are tall and straight; a few have bleached-out white bark, but most are dark brown. The groundcover is lush, with abundant redwood sorrel and several different kinds of fern.
The trail reaches its high point and then descends. Around the high point are good-size redwoods which, while hardly giants, are undoubtedly old growth. One of the more scenic parts of the trail then follows, a descent through a redwood-covered ravine. After crossing a footbridge and leaving the ravine, the redwoods get smaller and less frequent.
© 2008 David Baselt