Hike to Tall Trees Grove, Redwood NP
California › Tall Trees Grove Trailhead
Added by Brian Fulda
The hike to Tall Trees Grove is one of the best relatively easy hikes in California, and maybe the entire country. Some of the tallest trees in the world, of the species sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood), grow here. Many of the trees in this grove stand well over 350 feet, and are so high you can't even see the top. If you've ever been to Muir Woods, the trees here tower over 100 feet taller and are much wider. The Howard Libbey tree, which used to be the tallest in the world and spurred the creation of Redwood National Park, can be easily found on this hike.
NOTE: You need a permit, albeit free, to do this hike.
First, you'll need to go to the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center just off Highway 101 south of Orick, CA. Once there, write down your license plate number and go up to the counter and ask one of the rangers for a permit for Tall Trees Access Road. You'll need to provide the make, model, and plate number of your car. The permit is free, and the ranger will give you a combination number (which changes daily) to unlock the gate to Tall Trees Access Road.
Once you have the permit, drive north along Highway 101 through Orick (last chance for gas) until you reach Bald Hills Road. It will be a right turn roughly 1 mile north of Orick. Continue on Bald Hills Road for 7 miles until you reach Tall Trees Access Road. It will be just after Redwood Creek Overlook on the right. There, unlock the gate with the combination given to you (and re-lock it once you're through) and place the permit on your dashboard.
The Tall Trees Access Road is a 6 mile, unpaved gravel road with bumps and hills. The vast majority of cars (even 2WD) can handle this road fine by just going at a slow speed. However, low clearance vehicles might not be the right choice for this road. Note: RVs over 21 feet and vehicles towing trailers are not allowed on the road.
Once you've reached the bottom, there is a parking lot with a bathroom where you leave your vehicle. The trailhead begins just to the right of the restroom. Hike 1.3 miles down to Tall Trees Loop and you will reach the grove. You'll know you're there when it flattens out and you see a bench on the path. There are distinct signs marking the trail as well.
You can enjoy the Tall Trees Loop and the nearby Redwood Creek. The creek (which looks more like a river) can be found by continuing straight past the bench to the clearing. There are gravel and rocky banks of the creek that you can walk and camp on. This is the only place in Redwood National Park where "dispersed camping" is permitted. However, you have to be at least 1/4 mile away from Tall Trees Grove to camp.
This hike is best done in any season; however, permits are limited to a certain number each day and can sometimes fill up in summertime. Typically, though, this hike will be quite uncrowded due to its remote location. Enjoy!
- Permit (http://www.nps.gov/redw/planyourvisit/tall-trees.htm)
- Hiking Boots (optional)
- Camping Gear (optional)
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Well worth it!!
I went on this hike a couple days ago with my wife and 3 daughters - 12, 9 and 8 months. I packed the baby in a baby backpack. She fell asleep on the way down. I will say that this hike is much longer than the posted 1.25 miles. I run about 3 miles three times a week, so I know a mile when I run or walk one. I would say it is closer to 2+ miles. Anyway, we wanted to see the World's Tallest Tree (former), especially my 9-year-old daughter. We spend 4 days in the Redwood Parks and this was my favorite outing by far. Took about 5 hours from start to finish at the bottom of the road just outside Orick.
Give yourself time!
Most people assume they can see this in an hour. It's better to budget 3-4, because the drive to the trailhead alone takes an hour. It is an absolutely beautiful hike, albeit steep in sections. Bring a picnic but leave the dog at home - this is bear and mountain lion country. Dispersed camping is allowed along the gravel bars a mile downstream from the grove for those looking to extend their visit.
This hike is worth the stop to acquire a permit and the drive to the trailhead. The hike meanders through enormous downed trees (some hollowed out to walk through) and, as mentioned above, is rarely busy. I enjoyed the hike through the forest even more than the tall trees stand itself.
Did this hike a few weeks ago and loved it. Had most of the trail to myself, and oh the grove at the bottom. I had been in Stout Grove earlier in the day, which helped me appreciate that the champions of the Tall Trees Grove were indeed taller, grand columns in a creekside cathedral. I'd love to camp here sometime.
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