The Oregon Redwoods 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 similar to 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. And even though they aren’t that big, some of the trees have the twisted “corkscrew” appearance common in old-growth redwoods.
The trail is very well built and maintained. Very few people make it up here, and for the most part the trail is completely quiet, although the distant sound of traffic can sometimes be heard from parts of the trail.
The grove is easy to find since promenent "Oregon Redwood Trail" signs direct you to the grove from Highway One. The signs have probably 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. This intersection is easy to miss, since the road is narrow and not marked in any way, but it’s the first road to the right and it immediately crosses a bridge.
The narrow, sometimes-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 with patches of rhododendron. Around the low point of the trail are a dozen or so decent-sized redwoods, including a double-trunked tree with a short unofficial path leading to it, and a lone redwood about 10 feet in diameter.
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 hollow “chimney” tree that you can step into.
Return along the ridge to the parking lot.
© 2008, 2014, 2022 David Baselt