The Oregon Redwood Trail is a short loop through a mixed-species upland forest that includes some small old-growth redwoods. The trail consists of a wheelchair-accessible ridgetop portion that leads to a cluster of perhaps half a dozen mid-sized redwoods, and a longer portion that descends a hillside to a second, more widely-scattered collection of mid-sized redwoods.
The trail is one of only two old-growth redwood groves in Oregon. Compared to the spectacular redwood parks just a 15-minute drive to the south, however, the scenery here is rather underwhelming. By and large the redwoods are strikingly small, and most of the trees are not redwoods. Especially as you descend off the ridge, the forest looks for all the world like recently-logged second growth, with most of the trees being only a few inches in diameter. Unlike a second growth forest, however, the trees aren't sprouting in clumps from stumps but are evenly distributed around the forest floor, and there's an occasional larger tree.
The trail is very well built and maintained.
Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps.
The grove is easy to find since promenent "Oregon Redwood Trail" signs direct you to the grove from Highway One. The signs have, I'm sure, deceived many tourists hoping to see monster trees into taking the arduous drive up to the little grove.
From Highway One, take the very pretty Winchuck River Road past strikingly green dairy fields and a placid river. Just after a picturesque barn, turn right onto Road 1101. The narrow, potholed, single-lane dirt road winds 4 miles up Peavine Ridge through attractive woods. The drive from Highway One takes about 25 minutes. There don't seem to be any turnouts, but fortunately few people use the road so you're not likely to meet anyone coming the other way. There's a nice big parking lot and an outhouse at the end of the road.
From the parking lot, the trail dives into the woods and almost immediately splits. Take the left-hand branch, which switchbacks down a hill covered with small redwoods, a groundcover of sorrel and ferns, and a bright green understory of huckleberry and rhododendron. Look closely and you may see an occasional redwood that's a decent size, maybe 4 or 5 feet in diameter. These larger redwoods are most common around the low point of the trail.
As the trail starts to climb back up the hill, it passes through a dense grove of tiny, dark brown redwoods. This area doesn't have the huckleberry and rhododendron understory so it doesn't seem as lush and green, although it does have lots of ferns. It's tempting to think that logging is responsible for its appearance, but there are no obvious signs of logging.
When the trail reaches the ridge, the woods become much brighter and more scenic; the redwoods are an attractive light grey color and the understory a light green. The little loop on top of the ridge has perhaps the biggest trees of the hike; there's even a wheelchair-accessible goosepen tree.
Return along the ridge to the parking lot.
© 2008, 2014 David Baselt