How to see the redwoods in a weekend

by Anna Marie Cooper June 26, 2014

The redwoods are a solid six hour drive from Portland. Trying to squeeze them into a single weekend is extremely ambitious. Luckily, we are the types of ladies who can make such an endeavor possible. We left late Friday night, and drove until midnight to get to Crescent City, California. It's a perfect gateway into Northern California and is located fairly close to several large groves of redwoods, so it was the ideal place to start. We started Saturday in Stout Grove which is only about 45 minutes east of the city off of Highway 199  It's located on the edges of the Smith River, and within easy striking distance of the southern Oregon border. The grove itself is spectacular, easy to walk, and filled with giants. It's an simple half mile loop with a little side trail that you can take to a bright, happy little creek that's decked out in wild rhododendrons. The whole thing takes an hour or less and still leaves you lots of time to do more with the day.

From there we headed back to Crescent City, and then south until we got to Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. After staring at a few elk herds, we veered toward the coast where Gold Bluffs Beach Campground and Fern Canyon are located. Fern Canyon is amazing. Its a small river gorge with steep walls coated in ferns and moss. Some of you might recognize it from one of the scenes in Jurassic Park 2, or maybe it was just us being nerds. The hike starts off easy enough, but gets more difficult the further you travel. Eventually you will find your way barred by giant trees and boulders that you need to be well equipped to traverse (ie at least have shoes on), but the canyon is totally worth stopping and seeing regardless.

After Fern Canyon, we had just enough time to see the Lady Bird Smith Grove which was another easy, but incredibly impressive hike, and get back to Crescent City before dark. There we had time to eat at a questionable seafood restaurant before passing out for the night. The next day we made sure to spend some time by the ocean, and along the banks of the Smith River which is located along the scenic Highway 199, and which we had missed during out nighttime journey into town. Both were stunning, and the meandering journey home was super unhurried and relaxing because of it. 

When you work late night and weekends it is sometimes daunting to find the time to go on excursions like this, but they are such a necessary part of life. It's important for us take the time to wonder and to be awed. Those moments are rare in life, and sometimes we have to seek them out for ourselves. If you do, hopefully you will also be amazed by how much you can accomplish, and how much better you feel for making the effort. 

Anna Marie Cooper
Anna Marie Cooper


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