Between Leggett and Piercy, Smithe
Redwoods State Reserve protects a grove of old-growth
redwoods. Just across the Humboldt County line, Richardson Grove State Park offers both the Eel
River for recreation and an outstanding 2,000-acre
redwood forest. Along the highway are shops selling burl
products and the first of several drive-through trees.
Redwoods State Park is an accessible and huge (51,000
acres) forest which is accessed by turning off Hwy. 101
and taking the Avenue of the Giants (Route 254), which
winds through the park, passing several small
communities. There's a visitor center along the Avenue.
This park alone could prompt a vacation of several
days&emdash;swimming and fishing in the Eel River,
camping, hiking the park trails and relaxing in several
historic and comfortable inns along the way, beginning
with the renowned Benbow Inn, just south of
Garberville, which is the main tourist center for the
Park is a tribute to the foresighted
preservation-minded people who lobbied for many years,
and the state and federal governments, who worked
together to preserve the best of the northern Coast
Redwood groves. This unusual park includes three
self-contained state parks as well as the connecting
pieces under federal control. The main visitor
information center is at the southern entrance, just
south of the town of Orick and about 40 miles north of
Eureka. Lady Bird Johnson Grove offers an easy two-mile
loop walk to some very tall trees.
About 10 miles north of Orick is Prairie
Creek Redwoods State Park, first seen as a wide
meadow. Here there's a visitor center and museum with
information on the park's hiking trails, camping and
fishing possibilities. The One-mile Revelation Trail is a
self-guided trail, planned for the handicapped. The Fern
Canyon Trail is a wonderful five-mile walk through lush
ferns and tall redwoods.
There are 28 miles of walking trails in Del Norte Redwoods State
Park, just south of Crescent City. The northern
information center is in Crescent City, at 1111 2nd
Street. Continuing the drive north via Hwy. 101, the last
of the state parks within the national park is Jedediah
Smith Redwoods State Park, 9,560 acres reached by
taking U.S. Highway 199 east for 9 miles.
Avenue of the Giants
Since Europe's medieval age, the redwoods
of Humboldt Redwoods State
Park have been the silent sentinels of northwest
California. The Avenue of the Giants, a route that
parallels U.S. Hwy. 101, weaves in and out of the forest
groves leading visitors to gaze in awe at these giant
sequoias -- many of which have been standing here since
before the birth of Christ. The 101 freeway speeds you
past these impressive groves, but to get the true feeling
of majesty in this forest, you must take the Avenue of
We have come here again and again, as have
millions of other visitors to the Humboldt redwoods. Yet
even with all the tourist activity, the forest is so vast
that the human element is lost in its space and grandeur.
The Avenue of the Giants has its
southern entrance off Hwy. 101 just south of
Phillipsville at Sylvandale and runs for 31 miles to the
north exit/entrance south of Scotia.
Along the way, there are several small
villages that offer tourist services: burl shops, cafes,
stores and a few rustic inns and resorts. North of
Miranda at Myers Flat, the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree is a popular spot -- the result of a fire that burned
through the bottom of the 2,000 year old tree, leaving a
hole large enough to drive through.
Opposite Founder's Grove a turnoff
leads into Rockefeller Forest, another must-see
collection of tall trees. It is a forest rather than a
grove, and there are hiking trails throughout this large
Accommodations are available in the small
towns along the route, or in Garberville,
on Highway 101.
At Miranda, Miranda Gardens Resort (707-943-3011) has 16 cottages nestled in the forest
along with a heated pool and whirlpools ($$ to $$$). Whispering Pines Lodge (707-943-3182) is on the
Avenue with rooms, suites with kitchens and a heated pool
Weott is the closest town to the park visitor center
and Founder's Grove. The Sequoia Motel in Weott
(707-946-2276) has standard units close to a store and
walking trails by the Eel River ($). Redcrest, to the
north, has several places to stay including the Redcrest Motor Inn (707-722-4208) which has
cabins, a motel, store, cafe and a campground .
The Avenue of the Giants exits to U.S. Highway 101
just south of the mill town of Scotia. Rio Dell is the
neighboring town across the highway and most of the
tourist facilities are in Rio Dell. However, if you have
an interest in old hotels, Scotia is the place to go. The Scotia Inn (707-764-5683) is an historic building
in this town owned by the Pacific Lumber Company. The
inn, which opened in 1888, serves dinners Wednesdays
through Sundays, however it is currently closed for
renovations. The company offers a self-guided visitor
tour that includes a visit to their museum.
For availabilities at state park campgrounds in the
area, call 800-444-PARK, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven
days a week.