Breathless. And a little intimidated. And completely in awe. That’s how I felt when I saw one of the giant Redwoods for the first time.
We visited Redwood National Park in September as part of a ten day trip to Oregon & Northern California, which also included a visit to Crater Lake. Since we were coming from the north, we started our visit in Jedediah Smith State Park, which might have been the prettiest part of the park. Calling it ‘a park’ is a bit deceiving since there are many different sections spread out over a large area, portions are part of the National Park and others are part of the State Park system, and not all of it is contiguous.
We did our first hike in the Stout Grove, which is consistently ranked as one of the top hikes in the Redwoods and it lived up to and exceeded all of our expectations. This ‘hike’ is great for kids because it is short (0.6 miles) and flat. While I was mesmerized by the trees, Finnegan was invigorated and ran most of the way. Declan slept for most of it, but woke up before we reached the end of the trail.
What makes the Stout Grove especially impressive is the lack of any smaller trees to block the views so all you see are the giant redwoods surrounding you. It’s one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen.
While we were in the area, we also started the Boy Scout Tree trail and just turned around when we were ready to head back since the entire hike would have been way too long for us (5.6 miles). This trail had a lot fewer people and we enjoyed the small portion that we covered.
It was hard to decide where to base ourselves during our three night stay since the park is so spread out. We decided to stay in the Elk Meadow Cabins in Orick because they were centrally located and it was great to have a cabin to spread out and a kitchen for cooking simple meals. As the name implies, the cabins are located in a meadow where Roosevelt elk are frequently seen. During our stay, we often saw many elk in the field across the road and on our last morning, they were right outside our cabin. We got quite a show when a young male showed up and tried to challenge the older male for the harem. We watched for almost an hour as the older male consistently chased the younger one away.
Back to the cabins. They were absolutely perfect and I’m glad we decided to stay here. Each cabin includes three bedrooms, including one with bunk beds, and two bathrooms plus a living room and kitchen. The area is remote so you need to stock up on groceries before you arrive and be prepared for no cell phone reception. Our cabin was extremely clean and it was really nice to have a small washer and dryer because we were able to pack fewer clothes for the trip.
We spent the next few days almost entirely outside exploring different areas of the park. We hiked in the Lady Bird Johnson grove, which was very close to the cabins.
We also spent a day at Fern Canyon – another must see destination when you’re in the area. We would have LOVED to hike the entire James Irvine trail and finish at Fern Canyon, but we were too lazy to try and coordinate a drop-off or pick-up and doing the out and back version of the hike with the kids seemed too daunting. We settled for doing a short hike up the canyon and then coming back on the final stretch of the James Irvine trail. Finnegan loved walking on the boards through the canyon and then getting his feet wet as we went farther up. There was a decent amount of water in the canyon so it was tough staying completely dry, but it’s worth getting wet. This is where Jurassic Park 2 was filmed. And where we found the most banana slugs.
We really enjoyed our three days in the park and could have easily spent a few more days in the area. The Redwoods are high on my Dad’s list of places to see, so I’m hoping we get the chance to head back out west with my parents to see the tall tress again soon.