TALL TREES GROVE AND REDWOOD CREEK TRAIL
This summer, I made it a goal to go on a hike every weekend. I thought to myself, this is one of the greatest wonders in the world, and this might be the only chance I get to explore this national park for two whole months. So far, I have accomplished that goal, but I’ve mostly gone on short, easy hikes with my neighbors in park housing. However, my neighbor and colleague Joni has wanted to do a long hike in Redwood National Park for a while now. My fiancé was also visiting for the Fourth of July weekend, so I wanted him to go on a hike with us and also experience Redwood National Park. We decided that today was the perfect day for a long hike.
After getting recommendations and guidance from our cultural resource manager here at Redwood National Park, we decided to do the Tall Trees Trail which then leads to Redwood Creek Trail for a total of 9.7 miles. We parked one car at the Tall Trees trailhead, and one car at the Redwood Creek trailhead so we were only going one way (thankfully the downhill way), and could shuttle ourselves back to the start rather than going back around and hiking uphill for miles on end.
We started our hike at the Tall Trees trailhead with mosquitoes in the air and a nice cold breeze. The Tall Trees trail is a 1.5 mile hike that leads you to the Tall Trees Grove, where in a 1-mile loop, the redwoods tower at least 320 feet over you. We decided to hike to the Tall Trees Grove, which was an easy feat from the trailhead because it was all downhill, but it was an 800 feet elevation difference in 1.5 miles. We met some people climbing back up to the trailhead who did not seem to be enjoying that uphill climb, and we met some people who had great big smiles across their faces. Joni and I were grateful that we wouldn’t have to do the same exhausting climb and were smiling all the way downhill.
When we arrived at the Tall Trees Grove, it was overwhelming how beautiful the redwoods are. Their bark shines a magnificent deep red color, especially when it is illuminated by the sun. There are cobwebs that live between the bark, and seem to sparkle in sunlight: this is Joni’s favorite part about the trees. There is much to marvel at with redwood trees. While most people look up to see the redwoods, I tend to look down as I hike to avoid roots and rocks, but also to see my own favorite part about the redwoods, which is the understory.
At the bottom of these tall redwoods, little plants cover the ground as part of the understory of the redwoods. My favorite plants are the sorrels. They look like clovers, in that they cover the ground and have 3 leaves that look like hearts. They are considered to be under the oxalis family. I describe them as fluffy, but Joni strongly disagrees and says they do not look fluffy at all. In my opinion, it’s almost as if they are so soft and almost cloud-like, and they could support your weight if you decided to roll around on them (but they most definitely cannot because they are so fragile). I just think they are the best part about these redwoods, which is surprising to some since you’d think anyone’s favorite part about the redwoods is the redwoods themselves. But the truth is, redwoods are part of a whole system that allows them to thrive, from the climate and elevation to the understory and the fires that they withstand. Each part plays an important role in helping redwoods grow.
We hiked around Tall Trees Grove for a half mile, and connected with the Redwood Creek Trail, which takes you to a summer footbridge across the creek. We decided to stop and eat lunch by the creek mainly because there were no mosquitoes hovering about but also because it was sunny and warm. After our lunch, there was about 7.7 miles left on the hike. For the first .7 miles, it was uphill, but for the rest of the hike, it was relatively flat and easy, with multiple small stream crossings and bridge crossings.
The 7.7 mile hike along Redwood Creek was beautiful. There were numerous swimming holes to swim at, which was very tempting, but we didn’t have enough time to stop and swim. On your left, there are young redwood trees and sword ferns growing, while on your right, there are hazelnut, red alders and maple trees growing. They were two drastically different types of forests living side by side, only separated by the trail. My favorite part about the tall and skinny trees is how the light shines through their light bright green leaves.
With about 3 miles left, I started getting tired, but kept trudging on. We crossed another summer footbridge to get across the creek, and were met with blackberry bushes and wild cucumbers on the other side. I tried a Himalaya berry, which is one of the plants that I map for my project, and it was sweet and juicy. The wild cucumbers were interesting because they had soft spikes on them.
The rest of the hike was easy, but we were glad to reach the car at the Redwood Creek trailhead. We were also very glad that we could take the car and drive back to the Tall Trees trailhead rather than doing the 9.7 miles back to the trailhead. After shuttling back to the car at the Tall Trees trailhead, we started on our drive back home.
On the way home, we stopped at the Redwood Creek Overlook, which is a scenic stop that lets you see the Redwood Creek and the surrounding redwoods. When we stopped though, the clouds and the fog were rolling in and we weren’t able to see much. We also stopped at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, where there is a footbridge that crosses the main road, the Bald Hills road. The footbridge allowed you to see the redwoods about 30 feet off the ground, so it was a different perspective, especially as the fog rolled in and seemed wispy amongst the trees.
It’s one thing to talk about the park and show pictures of the park, but it’s another thing to experience it. Words can never describe how magnificent the Redwood National Park is. It’s no wonder thousands of people travel from across the world to experience it themselves.