Thursday, June 19, 2014

Our Visit To Stout Grove

Alongside the quiet waters of Smith River, just eight miles out of Crescent City, stands one of the most magnificent redwood groves in existence today -- Stout Grove.  It's listed as a "Point of Interest" on our campground's brochure and is described as of the world's most magnificent of the redwood stands. We will see for ourselves. Our visit, including travel time, took about 3 hours.

The eight mile drive along U.S. Highway 199 east from Crescent City took us past the Jedediah Smith Redwoods National and State Park entrance and on through the town of Hiouchi.

We crossed the Smith River and turned, following signs to Stout Grove. Here is some of what we passed along the way.

A tiny covered bridge...

Smith River 
At this point, the paved road gave way to dirt. Six miles of extremely narrow, winding, rough road took us deep into the forest.

It took three times circling the small parking lot to get a parking place. There aren't more than 12 spaces and some people parked their cars along the roadside.

Dogs are not allowed on the trail of Stout Grove
A downed redwood near the entry to the Stout Grove walking loop.
Not the largest stand of redwoods -- not the biggest redwood trees, Stout Grove is special simply because it is the most beautiful.

Nature's most perfect ground cover

The widow of a lumber baron, Mrs. Clara Stout, donated this 44 acres grove to the "Save The Redwoods League" in 1929 to save the trees from being logged and to memorialize her late husband.

 Wayne standing behind waist high ferns and in front of the huge Redwood trunk. 
I've read reviews and talked to people who've offered differing opinions as to why Stout Grove is so special. Some say it's because the grove is in a riverbed where the ground cover resembles a landscaped yard trimmed in giant ferns. Others say it's because there are no small trees mixed into the densely packed redwoods. Then there are those who comment on the almost cathedral-like quiet serenity.

Whatever the reason, Stout Grove is among the most humbling forest I've ever visited.

A closeup of the previous shot
Stout grove is a hiker, walker, photographer and nature lovers paradise. There are no National Park brochures or maps, no visitors center, recycle or trash cans. There's not a gift shop and there's no short film to watch. In a couple of words, Stout Grove is an outdoor minimalist's dream. This is by design as those who care for this beautiful place do not want it to become a tourist destination.

I like to stand near anything that makes me look smaller. 
The trail at Stout Grove is a short loop on flat terrain after a downhill walk from the parking area.  There are two hiking trails that lead off the loop and plenty of other hiking and walking trails nearby.

Howland Hill Road

Leaving Stout Grove, we took Howland Hill Road again, this time going the other direction returning to Crescent City.  This route was also about 6 miles, winding, narrow and dusty -- but oh, so worth it.

More of Howland Hill Road

And still more of Howland Hill Road.  
The only negative think I can report on our visit to Stout Grove was the dust.  The entire area is extremely dry this year and the roads are very dusty.  If we had it to do over, we would save our car's washing until after our visit to Stout Grove.

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