Monday, June 22, 2009

Stout Grove via Hiouchi Trail

Today dawned one of those picture-perfect, chamber-of-commerce days that simply call for an excursion, so who am I to argue? I wasn't sure where I wanted to go -- but by the time I finished my morning weight-work I felt a call to the redwoods so off I went. I was curious about the Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, because it's so well-known, but didn't want to drive down there merely for 1/2 mile loop trail. I wanted some hiking.

A quick look at William Sullivan's Oregon Coast Hikes book (which includes Crescent City, CA and the redwoods), and I'd found a perfect trail. The Hiouchi Trail leaves from the Highway 199 bridge over the Smith River and follows the river for about 2 miles, then crosses Mill Creek before reaching the Stout Grove. Later in the year I believe there is a footbridge over the creek, as there is over the river at the same place, but today I had to ford the stream on foot. Thanks to Sullivan's book I had been fore-warned and wore my river sandals. The creek was only about 10 feet across and no more than mid-calf at it's deepest. The cool water felt great on my feet. The round trip took me about 3 hours, with lots of dawdling along the way. Beautiful!

Not far from the highway the trail passes through this old redwood stump, which was really cool. Kind of like a hobbit hole -- I found lots of those today.

Ever been inside a redwood? This was a first for me. Cool view up.

Another hobbit hole. I found the lighting on this spider web interesting.

Much of this trail travels through a mixed forest and it's very beautiful -- and beautifully maintained with lots of stair-work such as this, many of them much steeper!

Another hobbit hole - but I loved this knarly old stump for much more than that. It called to me for some reason.

Lots of wildflowers along the trail, including these tiny roses with a great big scent. Only a few were blooming, but the air was filled with their aroma.

Wild honeysuckle just about to open -- and right next to the roses. I can only imagine how wonderful this spot would smell when both are in full bloom.

And what would a hike in this are be without wild Rhododendron? Quite a few still blooming, although I think it's fairly late in their season.

The wild and wonderful Smith River is visible through the trees for most of the trail, but now and then a wide vista like this opens up. It's a lot tamer looking than when I was here a few months back, in the rainy season, but it's still impossibly green and clear and utterly beautiful. Look at all those tall trees!

I loved this brilliantly-lit tree in the midst of the dark forest.

I think this is the Stout Grove, but I wouldn't swear to it. One big bunch of redwoods looks very much like another, and it's very difficult to capture the scope of these forests, so I tend to focus more on scenes that catch my eye for one reason or another.

This big boy is definitely in the Stout Grove -- don't you just love those knarly roots and burl?

Again, not sure where these are -- but does it really matter? What matters is that there are 10,000 acres of first-growth redwoods in this park that have been saved forever. It matters a lot.

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