Copyright 2009 - 2012 by Mario Vaden
Note: My redwood pages already have comments picked to share about this grove. A few clues exist elsewhere. Several people have commented online that they prefer the hunt anyway, so why not make the seeking more fun. Sometimes I offer a hint if someone invested time searching and their email shows that. Any hint offered is not for the purpose of getting more people to this redwood grove. It would be because someone proved a 99% chance of stumbling upon these redwoods in the very near future, and any assist is purely to ensure reduced damage to vegetation, etc..
A chapter Day of Discovery in Preston's redwood adventure book has 90% of what people need if they apply it to a map. The chapter is (hopefully) available online at Orion: Day of Discovery ... If you think you have the area narrowed down to like a 1/4 mile, email how you came to that conclusion. I may help you spare wear and tear ...... then, there are the "ghosts" ... various photos online some call "phantom" photos. They neutralize accurate reference. These are actual photographs of these redwood, but with wrong locations. Several years ago when Preston's book made these redwoods better known, the difficulty was limited to wrong names in captions. These days, the issue is location red-herrings: an obstacle. In other words, if you think you found a location reference, the chances of it being wrong are pretty high.
The Grove of Titans is a coast redwood grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, with several of the largest known coast redwoods. It has the 1st, 4th and 5th largest known Coast Redwoods and other towering behemoths. Rangers do not give maps or post signs, so online clues are likely your best option to piece the puzzle together. From my main redwood page ... you can navigate to a page for each of the 15 coast largest redwoods, including 1, 4 and 5. With larger photos and more info about each one.
Image at right: Del Norte Titan in Grove of Titans.
The Grove of Titans has been described by some folks as bordering or adjacent to Stout Grove, because the Grove of Titans was found during a hillside descent near Stout Grove. And that descent occurred in the forest on the opposite side of Mill Creek from Stout Grove. A narrative connotes the two groves being on the same side of the Smith River. Grove of Titans must be across the Smith River from the campground, by an unspecified distance. If you find references to Stout Grove being in the same area as Grove of Titans, that's why.
I'm not sure if Stout Grove has a defined boundary, and whether or not it jumps Mill Creek. It's not like there is a fence. It was originally 44 acres donated in 1929 by Mrs. Clara Stout. That makes Stout Grove no less than 1,916, 640 square feet, or the size of roughly 36 entire football fields. In comparison, Grove of Titans is also spread over about the same amount of area, about 45 acres worth of redwood forest. That's not official, but a fairly accurate description of it's size according to distances between named redwoods there, and slight allowance for extra buffer redwoods, hemlocks and shrubs. Considering the two groves are not rectangular, their longest dimensions combined can account for nearly 2/3 of a mile of forest if length is added to length. But the groves don't quite reach one another, and that's part of the mystery for some people who go looking for these.
The midst of each grove is on opposite sides of Mill Creek. Grove of Titans contains other species like hemlock and big leaf maple, and it's acreage is more expansive than some folks have imagined. Apparently it includes an ancient landslide that diverted a brook which trickles down the mountainside into a tiny marsh. On the opposite side of the marsh or "bog" is a huge redwood named Chesty Puller also part of the Grove of Titans. In a way, Grove of Titans' biggest redwoods are cradled by slopes to the NE, SW and SE, with the other redwoods dispersed among undulating topography. Grove of Titans seems to have more Selaginella, whereas Stout Grove has more vine maple, horsetail and wild filbert (Corylus) and poison-oak. Both groves are laden with sword ferns.
Not every clue, image or caption found online is reliable. Did you ever see the movie Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, with Steven Seagal? Do you remember Travis Dane, played by Eric Bogosian? Do you recall how he programmed about 40 "ghost" satellites to confuse the national defense people from shooting down the real one? That's sort of what's happened with the Grove of Titans. First, a few of reliable clues vanished off the internet altogether. Later, other apparent clues and some photos were posted online. Among them, a few with unintentional errors, but other purposely misleading or misplaced. So it may not be a cake walk for everybody. Simply going on face value alone, there may be no way to tell the genuine from the red herrings.
The first time I looked for this grove, standing water like pools of water was something I kept an eye out for: one clue written in a narrative. After heading a mile or so off-trail up into the hills, it was actually a massive trunk and not water that caught my eye when I looped back in another valley. But I was so tired when I spotted the first named redwood of Grove of Titans, that I returned the week later, being too tired. But I knew where to go.
Please read suggestions below about walking, navigating, in the Grove of Titans
These largest of coast redwoods were discovered in 1998 by Prof. Steve Sillett & Mr. Michael Taylor. The park is between Crescent City and Hiouichi in northern California. The location remains basically unpublished. Best-selling author Richard Preston had written about it, and one chapter was published online .... A Day of Discovery, from Orion. The article comes to a climax when a two-man expedition discovers the largest redwoods during a late day descent from hills at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Their day began north along Highway 199, ascending the side where they found New Hope Coast Redwood on an earlier visit. Between Hy. 199 and Grove of Titans is some of the most impenetrable redwood and huckleberry in the northern redwood parks.
In short, Sillett & Taylor entered Jedediah Smith redwoods along Hy. 199, and followed a creek which branches into at least two forks. They navigated valleys and hills and brooks southward. A straight line between entry and exit was at least 2.0 miles. Their path was about 3 miles. And with wandering included to look at redwoods and correct their course, probably 3.5 miles of movement through dense forest. Very difficult, but an amazing and beautiful rainforest.
One of the largest redwoods in the Grove of Titans is Del Norte Titan. It's in forest across the Smith River from the campground by a ways. Its in the hundreds of acres of forest on the opposite side. The three redwoods there with the most name recognition are Lost Monarch, Screaming Titans and Del Norte Titan. But there are more redwoods there of all sizes, including other species. See my main redwood page where a page link is provided for a few, including Screaming Titans.
The Grove of Titans redwoods extends through an old growth valley, highlighted with autumn color from vine maples.
Rounded to the foot, the trunk diameters are about 26' for Lost Monarch, 23' for Del Norte Titan, 23' for El Viejo del Norte, and 30' for Screaming Titans. Not only is the size interesting, but what grows on these redwoods. Aragorn coast redwood there, has a little bit of the epiphyte Oregon Spikemoss or Selaginella oregana, 110' to 120' high. And El Viejo del Norte is heavily laden with hundreds of pounds of fern mats.
Several redwoods in Grove of Titans are about 50% wider than of the Stout Grove redwood found across the river from the campground. The Stout redwood is about 16' diameter. But the park may have upwards of 50 redwoods larger than the Stout redwood, not limited to the Grove of Titans. The several thousand acre park has many discovered giants that were not given names.
Screaming Titans in the Grove of Titan gigantic too. It's a twin redwood fused for enough of the lower trunk to be considered one redwood. It is about 30' diameter, which is almost 5 feet wider at dbh than General Sherman, the largest known Sequoiadendron.
The grove has no Poison-Oak like you may have seen along highway 199 or a Hatton trail offshoot. Although not far from Grove of Titans on Hiouchi Trail is a poison-oak on steroids nearly 180' tall. If you go looking in this area, be sure to read my page about that indigenous plant which can be vine, shrub or groundcover.
Hiouchi Trail was my exploring area when I first learned of the Grove of Titans, and maybe one reason I found it in my first search. I had been systematically going up small notch valleys off Hiouchi trail, beginning at the Hy. 199 end. And my search for the Grove of Titans began when my exploring had already evolved to the south section of Hiouchi trail, almost to where it intersects Mill Creek trail. And one plant I kept track of was the poison-oak. Basically, as you move a little farther into the forest from the Smith River, that native plant which causes serious itching for 9 of 10 people, vanishes. It seems more abundant within several hundred feet of the river. It not only grows nearly 200 feet tall. but can also be a ground cover, no higher than the Redwood Sorrel. Image to the Right: if you look very closely, there are no less than a dozen poison oak plants hiding in the Redwood Sorrel. One as small as 1/3 a Sorrel leaf. In autumn, these loose their leaves, virtually undetectable.
Regeneration of the redwood species is slow in the Grove of Titans area, but it happens. And you may have heard that redwoods don't germinate a lot in some areas. During the winter of 2007, a storm broke a big limb off El Viejo del Norte. Fragments grew sprouts. My October 2008 visit during heavy rain showed more growth. I am watching it develop. If they remained alive, the redwood would have been a genetic clones of El Viejo del Norte. Another glance in spring 2010, showed that the new redwoods were still alive. But by autumn 2010 they dried up. Almost made it.
Navigating in the Grove of Titans
If you find this grove, please limit wear and tear. One way, is using the same small paths others have used. Some are very inconspicuous, but you will see where others have walked if you look. Just follow those same paths of access.
Don't walk up on the trunks to get a better photo of yourself. And don't cut vegetation out of the way to open a view for a camera. Especially on Screaming Titans, stay off the trunk area where ferns are growing and needles are piled thick. Try to find a spot lower down. And take your time moving around. The faster you move, the more you will break ferns and other plants.
Keep in mind that any inconspicuous paths can follow lots of of plunging through broken branches and thick needle accumlation. My search with my son, for the Grove of Titans, sent us through areas where we could have used snow shoes. Because our legs often plunged knee and thigh deep through decayed decades-worth of limbs, twigs, needles and stems. Even some of the logs we used as bridges gave-way in the top middle. That was more typical of Douglas Fir and Hemlock logs, because they decay quicker than Redwood. Although, a hazard that all logs shared was the potential to be slick like a skating rink on top, where bark fell-away leaving a slick slimy surface. You just need to move slowly. We never did encounter Black Bear, but they do live in the forest on that side of the park. That's why the campground on the other side of the Smith River has food lockers.
Occassional finders of the redwood grove don't necessarily find all the largest named redwoods in a single visit. I did not locate the Del Norte Titan until a following visit with our oldest daughter. It's not like they are all neatly clumped together. Some who found the grove following our search, seem to identify a few more of the redwood in shorter time. That's because some photos available online when we looked around, were mis-identified with incorrect names. It actually took our search, and more visits with a nearby naturalist (Lowell Cottle), to figure out the grove and names over about 6 months.
Even though some of the redwoods are gigantic, a glimpse of one in the distance can come and go in a matter of seconds if you are exploring. So you can easily be within sight of one, and miss it altogether on your visit. This is why some folks have eventually reached the correct location, but missed spotting the redwoods and moved on to other areas.
It would be impractical to include Howland Hill Giant as part of the Grove of Titans. It's just not close enough to Lost Monarch to elongate the grove in a practical imaginary sense.
Why some redwood locations were secret.
See ... Why Some Locations Are Secret