|Yesterday we visited Stout Grove, considered by many to be one of the world's most scenic stand of redwoods. It's not all that large, and it doesn't have the biggest trees, but for sheer photogenic beauty nothing beats this extraordinary grove!
Located on a small floodplain at the junction of two rivers, the Stout Grove has an openness and cathedral-like majesty combined with a lush, lawn-like ground cover. This grove also contains the Stout Tree, which is the bulkiest known coast redwood. It is 340 feet tall and 16 feet in diameter at chest height. And the tallest redwood trees here are equal in height to a 35 story skyscraper. Maybe this is what Merriam-Webster had in mind when it granted official-English-word status to "ginormous" in its 2007 college dictionary edition! The redwoods are densely packed, especially at the west end of the grove. A perfect, plush layer of ferns and redwood sorrel carpets the ground.
The grove has a remarkably hushed and serene environment. The sounds were damped out by the thick, spongy layer of needles on the ground. The terrain looks prehistoric. We both commented that it looked like the kind of environment dinosaurs would have lived in. Remember the third Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi, when the Ewoks were driving the jet sleds among the big trees? Yep, those scenes were filmed here.
Each time we visit, we like to begin our journey on the north end of Howland Hills Road. It is a well-traveled, two-way, narrow dirt vehicle road. Meaning you will occasionally meet another car coming from the opposite direction. Not a problem, just carefully pull aside in one of the many 'turnouts' so the other vehicle can pass. Apparently built and/or improved by Chinese laborers in the early 1900's, this road was once used by logging vehicles. Before that it was part of the stagecoach route to Oregon. So, if you get in this area and plan to do this drive, I suggest you begin your journey from Brookings by traveling Hwy 197 to Hwy 199, South Bank Road, ending your journey just a few miles outside of Crescent City on Elk Valley Rd. for the best views. Just my humble opinion...
It was a beautiful day as we started our morning but gray skies were building fast and the temperature was a cool 49 degrees. This meant our walks were short, but still wonderful. About 2/3 of the way through a light rain started which soon turned into a hail storm! Fortunately it was small hail & didn't last long. By the time we reached the end of our journey it was raining lightly. We made our way to the beach and parked to watch the raging ocean waves as we enjoyed a late lunch. And one last comment. The drive along the Smith River is equally as beautiful as you make your way to Stout Grove.
Bottom line, make sure Stout Grove is high on your 'must see' list if you visit this area. You won't be sorry....:) P.S. Short video today!