A mysterious collection of some of the largest redwood trees known to exist has been “officially” revealed to the public in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, part of the Redwood National Parks. Lace-up your hiking shoes, your Del Norte County, California Redwoods National Park bucket list just got longer. The Grove of Titans must be seen to be believed. Once you walk this elevated path, these mammoth trees will capture your heart.
Grove of Titans Hiking Trail Information:
Trail Distance: 3.4-mile out and back (with shorter loop option)
Elevation Change: 137 feet
Distance from Crescent City: 26 minutes (6.6 miles via Howland Hill Rd.) or 35 minutes (15.6 miles via US-199 North)
In Galaxy Not So Far Away
Until very recently, the cosmic Grove of Titans was essentially a classified destination. The mystic redwood forest contains three of the 10 largest coastal redwoods trees known in existence by volume. The largest is named Lost Monarch, standing at 320 feet and 26 feet in diameter. That is 81 feet around; a tennis court couldn’t wrap around a trunk that big! Other rivaling Titans in the grove include Del Norte Titan, El Viejo del Norte and Screaming Titans. The unique banshee-of-a-tree features two trunks that have fused together to create one towering giant.
Gazing up at one of the “Titans”
Back in 1998, a botanist and a ‘big-tree tracker’ accidentally uncovered the colossus collection while researching in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Once the coordinates hit the web, redwood devotees began to flock to get up-close to some of the largest trees on Earth. In just two decades, the forest floor was loved ragged. Precious roots were exposed, the understory was crushed and soil was beginning to erode. It was time for some redwood renegades to step in.
A Walkway of Wonder
A 1,300-foot raised walkway through the Grove of Titans has been completed. California State Parks, Save the Redwoods League, National Park Service, and Redwood Parks Conservancy have partnered together to build an official trail that ensures optimal gazing while protecting the grove for generations to come. This .25-mile iron pathway should be on every nature-lovers must-see list. Wander under a thick redwood tunnel above a fern-covered floor. The walkway construction crews have said their “office” feels like another world. You’ll start your supernatural journey at Mill Creek Trailhead, located halfway up Howland Hill Road. The walkway begins .75 miles down the trail. The wide platforms do not have rails, giving you plenty of room to look up and around at the scenery.
The Grove of Titans trail is an easy hike along wide dirt trails and then elevated walkways appear once you get to the “giants”.
Project funding has come from every corner, from big grants to school bake sales. Everyone is rooting for these primeval arbors. With some coastal redwoods living as long as 1,500 to 2,000 years, it’s possible that some of this grove’s Titans were around at the time of the Roman Empire. Of course, this ancient assembly of redwoods is more than a history lesson.
The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation interpretive signage along the Grove of the Titans trail
Watch this video by Mark Freeman, an Oregon Outdoors columnist, on the Grove of the Titans.
Let’s protect these natural places for years to come. Be a Forest Friend and Stay on the Trail.
A Soak for Your Soul: Not Your Basic Forest Bathing
Take your time to really unplug while visiting the Grove of Titans with a good ol’ forest bath. Bathe in the shadows that dance through foggy sunbeams. Truly recharge when you listen to the peaceful breeze. An established practice in Japan, forest bathing is known as shinrin-yoku. Unplugging for one hour will wash away stress and help you focus on the joy that lay in front of you. Connect your senses to the mammoth trees and the balmy coastal air for a spa day like no other.
Quiet Forest, Lush Ferns and Tall Redwood Trees Along the Grove of Titans Make for the Best Forest Bathing Experiences
Other Nearby Hiking Trails to Explore
While visiting Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, there are plenty of other trails to send your heart soaring above the canopy. Get your “grove” on the short-but-oh-so-sweet Stout Memorial Grove Trail. You can actually hike from the Grove of the Titans to Stout Grove for a full day of big tree hunting. In the summer months, you can amble across the footbridge over the Smith River. For a longer 4.7-mile hike – and some seasonal wildflowers – check out Hiouchi Trail. Marvel at the rushing emerald waters of the Smith River on the 1-mile Jedediah Smith River Trail.