Posted by: kerryl29 | October 17, 2017

Thematic Interruption: A Walk in the Woods

A walk in any wooded area can be therapeutic but a redwood forest hike is on another level altogether.  When the conditions are right, it can amount to a quasi-spiritual experience.

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I’ve spent time in seven different redwood groves in five different state and national parks over the past three years and each brought it’s own unique atmosphere to the fore.

Stout Grove, Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

Whether it was the lush understory of the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park..

Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park, California

…or the moss-covered complement of broad-leaf maples of the Rhododendron Trail in Priaire Creek Redwoods State Park…

Broad-Leaf Maple, Rhododendron Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

…or the geometric precision of the trunks in the Roosevelt Grove at Humboldt Redwoods State Park…

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

…or the splash of color from the pink rhododendron blossoms at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park…

Rhododendrons & Redwoods, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

..each grove has its own character.  They may all seem more or less the same, superficially, but spend quality time in the different groves and you’ll see that every one has its own…well, its own unique personality.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Head into your grove of choice on a quiet, foggy morning and prepare to be entranced.  The lush forest floor, filled with ferns, redwood sorrel and other forms of ground cover, will be a piercing green, soaked as everything will be with the ubiquitous moisture.

Forest Floor Intimate, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Move away from the roadside and stop; you will hear the quiet.  Look up and see the tops of the redwoods at dizzying heights, 300 feet or more, in some instances, above your head.

Towering Redwoods, Cal-Barrel Road, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Wait for the sun to begin burning off the fog and treat yourself to the glorious sight of shafts of light penetrating the forest canopy.

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

One of the things that make the redwood groves so appealing is that they’re so remote.  Depending on the specific grove, they’re a full day’s drive from any major metropolis–the San Francisco Bay Area to the south and Portland, Oregon to the north.  The largest town within a two-hour drive is Eureka, California (population:  approximately 27,000).  Given that one of the things that make a hike in the redwoods so enticing is the solitude, this is a good thing.  If you want to be alone in the redwoods–and I heartily recommend it–it’s not a difficult thing to achieve.

Spring Greenery, Rhododendron Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

There may be more spectacular locations than the redwood forests of northern California, but I’ve found few, if any, places more memorable.  And all you need to take with you to make the most of the experience is as many of the five senses as you possess.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Addendum:  For an exceptionally thorough guide to hiking in the redwoods, check out the Redwood Hikes website.



  1. I will be forwarding this post to my sister, Jules, who just returned from a trip to this same area. They fell in love… it was their first time seeing the Redwoods. Excellent photos!!

    • Thanks very much!

      I hope your sister enjoys the post. I’m sure the redwood experience will remain strong in her mind for a very long time.

  2. Stunning photos! What wonderful walks they must be.

    • Thanks! The walks are, in fact, exceptional.

      Here’s a terrific guide to hiking in the redwoods (I’m going to add this link to the main body of the post as well.)

      • Thank you

  3. Beautiful!

  4. I’ve thought of walks through Redwood groves as a mystical experience since my first one back in the early 70’s. They are like nothing else I’ve ever encountered. Oddly enough I’ve been on a bit of a binge reading about trees lately. If you’re so inclined I just finished a book that described how some enterprising folks searched for the tallest of these trees. They also discovered previously unknown worlds up in the canopies of these giants. “The Wild Trees” by Richard Preston.

    Fire doesn’t do a great deal of damage to the redwoods because of their incredibly thick bark, but one of the last Oregon groves was damaged by our Chetco Fire. ( If it hadn’t been for that maddening marine layer rolling into our canyon we might have faced evacuation or worse. the fire started July 12th and is still only 97% contained, though that remaining 3% is mainly in the wilderness area where they’re likely to let it burn until the rains come.

    Your images are marvelous (as usual), but there is no way I know of to truly catch that amazing peace and serenity found in those groves.

    • Thanks, Gunta. You’re right; I don’t think it’s possible to really capture the aura of redwood groves in an image.

      Relieved to hear that you managed to avoid the worst of that OR fire (and truly scary to think that it’s still burning more than three months after it started).

  5. Beautiful! Love how the colors pops out….nice!

  6. It’s hard for me to believe I lived in Berkeley for three years and never made more than cursory visits to these groves. I visited enough to be able to attest to the unique aura of the place(s), but at the time (in the mid-to-late ’70s) I wasn’t much interested in nature, didn’t have a camera, and so on. In short, I was living in an entirely other world, surrounded by a world I’d give anything to visit now. Such is life! But your photos are a wonderful reminder of the visits I did make, and of course an enticement to return. If I do, I’ll take a camera.

    • Thanks!

      Don’t beat yourself up too much; these groves are a long way from Berkeley. (I drove right by Berkeley on the return trip; I wanted to avoid the Golden Gate (toll) and Bay Bridges (downtown SF) on my way back to SFO so crossed the Bay via the San Mateo Bridge.) It’s basically a full day’s drive.

      But…if you do get a chance to go back, do so. And definitely bring a camera. 🙂

  7. Very nice photos

  8. Brilliant photos, I’d love to to visit the area and I could probably happily spend a good week wandering around

    Is it wrong that I half expected to see an ewok poking out from behind a tree?

    • Thanks!

      Re your ewok question…no, it’s not wrong at all. In fact, it’s an excellent observation: the ewok habitat scenes in The Return of the Jedi were filmed in the Stout Grove at Jedediah Smith State Park.

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