Home of the Tallest Redwood Trees & Smith River Recreation
Hiouchi, California Travel Guide: Things To Do in Hiouchi
The Hiouchi Travel Guide: Find All Things To Do, Where to Stay & What to See in Hiouchi, California
Enveloped in redwoods and brimming with adventures, you’ll discover a little destination called Hiouchi with Del Norte County, California. Gather your group to golf, fish, hike, eat, bike, and swim. The outdoors definitely outnumber people here, and it’s glorious.
See the Most Old-Growth Redwood Trees in One Place at Jedediah Smith State Park
The beauty and wonder of Jedediah Smith State Park is almost unreal. With 10,000 acres of towering trees, crystal waters and endless recreation, you will certainly get lost in wonder. The park began as a modest donation by Clara Stout in 1929. She gave 44 acres to the Save the Redwoods League in honor of her late husband, and that has grown into the current acreage. Jedediah Smith State Park is home to the most old-growth redwoods per acre of all of California’s parks.
Launch your adventure in the grove that started it all, Frank D. Stout Grove. This easy loop is less than one mile and includes access to the aquamarine streams of the Smith River. Meander under a cathedral-like canopy along a rich floor of ferns. If you have a sunny day, plan for a late afternoon amble – that’s when the colors really glow. For the densest collection of redwoods, stick to the west end of the grove. For a floating-meets-hiking experience, float down the Smith River taking in the beauty of the sapphire water and the surrounding canyon walls dotted with unique flora and fauna only found here in Del Norte County like the Serpentine Catchfly. The grand finale is floating by some of the world’s tallest redwood trees then hiking into Stout Grove. Guided rafting, kayak, float, biking, and hiking trips with a naturalist guide are available from Redwood Rides.
And don’t stop there. Pack a lunch and maybe a cold beverage because there are 20 miles of magnificent trails through soaring redwoods to experience. Mosey down the Simpson-Reed Trail. The path is super-accessible and the landscape is nothing short of draw-dropping.
Travel back in time to the gold rush while hiking the Craigs Creek Trail. Once the path of a hydraulic gold mining operation, the 8-mile out-and-back takes you through lush woodlands, including maples and redwoods. The trail concludes at the confluence of the rushing Craigs Creek and serene Smith River.
Share a drive with someone special as you motor around lush forests of colossal redwoods. Howland Hill Road is an unpaved and unforgettable 10-mile scenic drive. Stop along the many turnouts to step out of the car to get an overhead view of the dense greenery.
Gather your crew around a campfire in a Star Wars-worthy forest to swap stories and share S’mores. Admire the starry night under a glowing vault of ancient trees. The park has more than 80 well-equipped campsites, some large enough for RVs (but there are no hookups). Feeling ambitious? Barbeque like a Texas ‘Que Tycoon on the park’s shared open-air barbeque pit complete with a crank for that perfect temp.
Get lost for days in all the stellar activities throughout the park. Keep reading for suggestions on kayaking, rafting, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking and more.
Gas Up, Read Up, Eat Up – Supplies and Information in Hiouchi
Get the scoop on the area from the folks who know. Hiouchi Visitors Center is open daily. Snag your backcountry camping permit. Rest your feet while watching an informative film. Keep the kiddos engaged with a ranger-led activity in the summer.
Swing into the Chevron for way more than fuel. Stock up on fishing supplies. Renting rec equipment like rafts is a snap there. And c’mon, everyone needs road snacks.
Stopping by the Historic Hiouchi Cafe is a must during your redwoods adventure. The friendly staff serves up breakfast and lunch and even has a special to-go menu for travelers and fisherman. Order up a mean burger after a morning trek. Pro tip: if you’re getting breakfast, the “baby pancakes” are as big as a dinner plate.
Hike Some Hiouchi History on the Old Kelsey Trail
In the late 1800’s, mule trains of 30 to 40 animals would trek supplies and food between Crescent City and Fort Jones on what was then known as the Kelsey Trail. Even before that, native tribes walked this route. Take in some history as well as scenery on the newer Old Kelsey Trail. (The trail was just rediscovered and rebuilt in 2011.) Totaling 7 miles, choose your 2, 5, or 7-mile hike with trailheads at Big Flat Campground and South Fork Road, about 9 miles from Highway 199. Stroll along rushing creeks.
Gaze over second growth forests. Watch for osprey, owls and nighthawks. Find your inner pioneer as you ford the South Fork of the crystal Smith River. Or just stop there for a deep aquamarine swimming hole and an enchanting riverside picnic.
Unbeatable Fishing Around Hiouchi
Fishing anywhere in Del Norte County is likely to yield smiles and a fresh catch. When you’re in Hiouchi, there are many Smith River holes to wade and reel in salmon late summer through early winter or Steelhead early winter through spring. Find a tranquil spot off a gravel bar located just downstream of the Hiouchi Bridge. Step into the calm current under an ancient canopy to plunk your hook in Sophie Hole. Park at the Stout Grove trailhead in Jedediah Smith State Park and follow the trail to the river.
Even if you don’t bring home a trophy, the walk is a pretty awesome consolation prize. Fishing on the Smith River is even better by boat to take in the immense landscape. And it’s best when you enlist a local authority to guide you to the perfect pool. Leave the gear behind and charter a river run with any one of these licensed professionals:
River Snorkeling If you favor watching fish over reeling fish, try your hand at snorkeling the Smith River. Leap into crystal clear water – with a wet suit – and swim alongside alluring Chinook and Steelhead. Dive just below the surface and scan through the curtain of bubbles into the deeper pools to find amphibious treasures hiding around rocks. Check out the mouth of Craigs Creek for a particularly populous pool.
Rafting the Smith River Gather your gang and whitewater raft the rapids and flatwater down the scenic Smith. It’s an epic way to see a mighty Redwood forest by boat. Rent rafts or get a guided tour from Redwood Rides.
Kayaking, Standup Paddleboarding and Tubing Paddle emerald waters in a kayak, canoe or on a SUP board as you float by ferny forests and thirsty wildlife. Take a lazy day tubing down the river as you enjoy the sunshine with your tribe. If you’re venturing out without a guide service, stick to the lower Smith where rapids are family-friendly. The Smith River lives up to its name of Wild and Scenic as its flows can be unpredictable.
Myrtle Beach Swimming Lounge around the spectacular swimming hole Myrtle Beach, complete with a sandy shore and smooth boulders to leap off into translucent water. It is a slice of raw yet relaxed heaven right off Highway 199 at South Fork Road. This is the perfect blend of swim, shade, sand and sun to let your soul wander.
Myrtle Creek Hiking The nearby Myrtle Creek Trail is a botanical dream. Be inspired by the lush vegetation and vibrant wildflowers on this 2-mile out-and-back with bonus interpretive signs detailing the mining history of the creek. Park on the southside of Highway 199 at milepost 7.2.
Birdwatching For those who want their soul to take flight, Hiouchi’s birdwatching makes spirits soar. Near Myrtle Beach is the mouth of Myrtle Creek. You may spy ruffed grouse, spotted owls and woodpeckers. Make a pitstop at the Jedediah Smith campground to admire purple finches, marbled murrelets, and brown creepers. The finches may be hard to spot; their beautiful rosey pink feathers blend in with the ruddy red of redwood bark. Meander to Stout Grove in the state park to investigate winter wrens, harlequin ducks and American dippers. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot the dipper. This bird can’t stand still, constantly bobbing on riverside rocks.
Biking or Horseback Riding Little Bald Hills Trail Whether your steed has 4 legs or 2 wheels, Little Bald Hills Trail delivers a fun trek with scenic contrasts. Pedal through a mysterious grove of lichen-covered firs. In the summer, trot along a field of wildflowers. Climb a wooded ridge to reveal an aerial view of the Smith River. Along the way is Little Bald Hills Backcountry Camp where horseback riders can corral their colts for the evening. Camping is free with a permit, which you can snag at the Hiouchi Visitor Center.
Pro Tip: Get a Guide to Get the Most Much like the previously mentioned fishing guides, renting gear from a local expert, and better yet, hiring them, is a great way to get the most out of your adventure. From epic rafting trips down the Smith to self-guided kayak tours to mountain bike shuttle service for a downhill thrill ride, these recreation aces will show you an unforgettable time.
Redwood Rides offers kayak, bike and paddle board rentals plus tons of tours including rafting, kayaking, biking, hiking, fishing and multi-sport.
Smith River Kayaks offers all things kayak including full and half-day tours, fishing tours and rentals.
Just out of the fog but nestled in the redwoods is Del Norte County Golf Course. Stroll along this lush, nine-hole public course as it winds around pine trees. Chip your ball, sink your put, and reward yourself with a beverage from the full-service lounge.
Discover endless recreation to feed your soul throughout Hiouchi. The fringe of Old California is calling.