King among Kings
Back ~ Summary Listing of selected features Prairie Creek
Sightseeing en route to & on the Oregon,
Hiking, Horseback Riding and Mountain Biking in
Hiking Trails in the northern Redwood Parks.
California Redwoods State and National Parks.
Of all the parks in the Redwood pantheon, Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, complemented by the rugged yet, pristine splendor of the Smith River, offers matchless beauty and charm. A mere drive in the canyon curves along the Smith River provides ample enjoyment. Meander the riverís sparkling emerald waters. Gently promenade arcades of stately Redwoods. The beauty of the sublime, and itís easily viewed from Highway 199, or the Redwoods Highway, as itís otherwise known.
If youíve only time for a short drive through, you might want to plan a short break at Walker Road just off the highway. There youíll enjoy vistas of Redwoods profusely framed with ferns.
Unless you absolutely have to hurry, try to make the most of this opportunity. The Stout Grove is a wonder. Itís the oldest grove in any park in the California Redwoods, and itís not hard to find. Turn off Highway 199 about a mile east of Hiouchi, cross the bridge to South Fork Road; and youíll have the option of going up or downstream on the Smith River.
The Stout Grove is downstream, but you might want to explore some other delights before visiting the grove .If so, turn left to follow the much-heralded south fork of the Smith. Dense forest curtains much of the river, secreting it from the road. However, any contact is breathtaking. At one point the Smith displays unrivaled beauty: the gorge widens, the river slows down, emerald green waters gracefully wend their way, forgetting all the urgency that is but a stoneís throw upstream. No indication here of torturous rapids carving mountain gorges, coercing routes around boulders polished smooth by ages of driving cascades. These torrents are not easily viewed firsthand, although itís certainly possible when in the gorge.
Anyone desiring to confront the waterís turbulence should certainly research the river and her moods. Donít make a decision solely upon views seen from the road as my companion and I did. We had no idea what we were getting into when we decided to put in at a little swimming hole upstream. I will never forget the people watching us as we did. Locals, they probably knew what we would face, floating the south gorge on inner tubes, no life jackets, no helmets. We didnít even know it was a gorge until we were in it, and once in . . .
Head downstream if you want to visit Stout Grove; thatís a right turn after crossing the bridge. Follow the paved road through a small residential area and over a covered bridge; after that itís hardly more than a dirt track. Still itís traversable so donít give up. Besides, it will not be long before the sign for Stout Grove appears. When it does, turn right into the parking area and prepare for one of the greatest delights in any of the parks: nature untrammeled, great old trees and forest tranquility, all complimented by the Smith River flowing peacefully beside. Walk the trails; swim the river. All paths within the grove eventually make their way back to the same place.
After youíve seen Stout Grove, you might be in the mood for a little more redwood "mystery;" that which isnít the commercial stuff. If so, turn right when you pull out of the parking area. True, the narrow, unpaved road demands slow speeds, but it also allows one to participate in the forest in a way not usually experienced when driving. Besides the route isnít long, and it comes out not far from Crescent City, gateway to the rest of the parks, making this a fine conclusion to a visit at Jedediah Smith State Park in the California Redwoods.
Copyright - gm - 2003
Travel Oregon and northern California while staying at Gathering Light ... a retreat
Contact Brad at Gathering Light.