The first hike of the day was the 1-mile loop Simpson-Reed Trail. Easily accessible from the road, and a short hike, it was a great choice while we still waited to see what happened with the weather.
Since the weather was still cooperating, we decided to go to a favorite old-growth grove: Stout Grove. During the summer you can access Stout Grove through the Jedediah Smith campground. There is a seasonal footbridge that allows you to cross the Smith River. We had to try the entrance from Howland Hill Road. We took the road until it turned to gravel and followed it for several miles more until the road was blocked by cones. Fortunately, there was another trail we could access from this road: Boy Scout Tree Trail.
BOY SCOUT TREE TRAIL
This was the hike we did. It's an out and back hike totaling 5.6 miles. The Boy Scout Tree is a 2,000 year old enormous tree. It's 27 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. I had hiked this trail in the summer of 2011, with Sarah Voruz, on a bright, sunny day. With summer and sun, comes people. On this trip with Aaron, we didn't see one other human on the trail; or any of the trails we hiked that weekend for that matter! Boy Scout Tree trail is pretty awesome right away. I would recommend it even if you don't have the stamina to make it to the tree. If you hiked in 30 minutes and then back out, you would still be in for a treat of hiking through massive trees.
We feasted on Chinese food for dinner that night and thought it best to fork over the extra cash on a nicer hotel that night. One that promised a hot breakfast.
On Sunday, we were surprised with yet another day without rain. We went on our third hike: Hiouchi Trail. This trail winds along the Smith River and can also connect to the Stout Grove in the summer (the seasonal bridge was not in at this location either). We completed the 4 mile out and back hike in less than 2 hours. On our return back to the car, we finally were greeted with some rain. I would definitely recommend this trail, especially in the summer. If you camp at Jedediah Smith, you can take the bridge to Stout Grove, then take the 2nd bridge to this trail (crossing the Smith River for a 2nd time) and make a day out of it!
Fern Canyon is a magnificent hike through 50 foot walls of five finger ferns. It is located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. I'm not sure that it is accessible in the winter, as the road there was closed when we were there in February. I have accessed it in July and in late October. Both times, I hiked through the canyon and then met up with a trail that takes you through tall trees. This is a very busy hike in the summer.
- Elevation: Nil
- Distance: 1 mile loop
Boy Scout Tree Trail
- Elevation: 760 feet
- Distance: 5.6 miles out and back
- Elevation: 420 feet
- Distance: 4.4 miles out and back
- Elevation: Nil
- Distance: 0.7 mile loop (can add a forest loop hike for another 3 miles)
- Elevation: Nile
- Distance: 0.6 mile loop
I highly recommend camping at Jedediah Smith State Park. There are trails accessible from the campground. It is the closest park if you're heading south from Portland. And it's near the town of Crescent City. Very busy in the summer.