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Visit Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

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LISTED 14

Named after an explorer and fur trapper who traversed this remote region in the 1820s, Jedediah Smith Redwoods is the northernmost of the four segments of Redwood National and State Parks, and the only one not including any part of the Pacific Coast. The park comprises 15 square miles of lush, hilly land bordering the Smith River, most of which is dark and densely wooded, containing large ferns, thick moss, colorful lichens, flowering azeleas and many other plants in addition to the giant redwoods. Numerous big trees grow close to the main road (US 199) and along the park's small network of footpaths, though much of the interior has no trails so is virtually inaccessible, due to the steep terrain and the thick undergrowth. Hidden somewhere south of the highway along the upper stretches of Clarks Creek is the secret Grove of Titans, home to some of the largest coastal redwood trees anywhere, but whose location is not publicized, and reachable only by off-trail hiking. Because of the variety of the supporting plant life, the huge size of some of the redwoods, and the gaps in the canopy that allow shafts of sunlight to reach the forest floor (as this region is less affected by the sea fog that often covers the woodland closer to the coast), Jedediah Smith is considered to be the most scenic and atmospheric of the four redwood parks, despite being the least visited. Besides ample opportunities for looking at the trees, the park also offers swimming, fishing (principally for salmon, cutthroat trout and steelhead trout), rafting, cycling and camping.

Simpson Reed Trail

The best way for a quick introduction to the redwood forest is to walk along the Simpson Reed/Peterson Memorial trails, which together form a one mile figure-of-eight loop. The path crosses a small stream and winds through a very dense section of the woods, encountering all sizes of redwoods from young saplings to huge old growth trees. Some new trees are growing several feet above ground level, either on top of the many thick fallen trunks, or over the bark at the base of living trees, such is the richness of the environment. The forest shows some evidence of past fire damage, but not much, unlike the drier sequoia forests in the Sierra Nevada that are frequently affected by wildfires.