Day 58 (September 26)
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park / Crescent City, California
We awake under tall trees, and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the (still empty) KOA camping loops with coffee in hand. The light is so beautiful here in the morning!
The Redwoods State and National Parks
If you have not already visited the Redwoods parks, you may not realize that several California’s Redwoods northern state parks and the national park are co-managed. Additionally, there several Redwoods state parks and state recreation areas further south, but here is a list of the parks under that co-management system:
It can be a little overwhelming to plan a visit if ones does not have the luxury of time as we did. Many visitors just try to hit the highlights at the national park, but then miss out on some of the most incredible places. Hopefully this post and my next few posts will encourage the traveler to explore some of the lesser-known (and less crowded!) groves, trails, and stretches of coastline within the Redwoods parks.
Howland Hill Road Scenic Drive in Jedediah Smith State Park
On our first full day in Redwoods country, we are off the make the scenic drive on Howland Hill Road through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Note: This gravel road is very narrow and windy, and not recommended for RV’s!
The road and forest are so dusty at the end of dry season that everything appears to be covered in snow.
Barely down the gravel road we hear horrible screeching sounds of varied pitch coming from one side of the car. We turn around, find the nearest tire dealer, a regional chain called Les Schwab. Fearing an expensive repair, we are relieved when the mechanic tells us that a small piece of gravel lodged in the rotor is the culprit. They do not even charge us a fee. Oh the kindness of strangers!
Less than two hours after our first attempt, we once again set out on our scenic drive through old-growth Redwood Forest.
Boy Scout Tree Trail
We stop to hike the Boy Scout Tree trail, and are treated to a lovely walk through quiet, pristine old-growth Redwood forest.
The Boy Scout Tree is truly massive. Although we share the trail with only a few people, we do not get to view this mighty tree in solitude.
We also hike to Fern Falls, however the falls are barely a trickle after three months without rain (when they say dry season, they do mean dry!). I couldn’t even get a decent picture to show you. The fern groves and shamrocks in the forest are lovely though.
The Stout Memorial Redwood Grove
We stop again to hike the incredible and surprisingly uncrowded Stout Memorial Grove. If the grove looks familiar, perhaps it’s because you’ve seen this place on film. Scenes from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi were filmed here. There are a lot of pictures of Robert included in this post – not just because I like my handsome husband, but also for scale.
We take a side trail and find the Smith river. I wish we had brought a picnic lunch. This place is so peaceful!
We enjoyed our sunny day exploring the redwood forests of Jedediah Smith State Park, however the fog still clings to the coast. At a park in Crescent City I stop to take this picture of the Pacific, where the fog is so thick that visibility is about 30 feet.
The Best California Redwoods Park?
I highly recommend a trip to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. After having wandered more than half a dozen Redwoods parks, I will declare that this first one we visited is probably my favorite redwoods park overall.
One bit of advice: If you plan to camp, book early! The campground at Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP is really popular. That said, the Crescent City Redwoods KOA is a darn good backup, and if you are fortunate to travel in the shoulder or off-season, you may just have the a redwood forest all to yourselves as we did.
Click on a park name below to read about our wanderings through more Redwoods parks: