Stout Coast Redwood & Stout Grove
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Copyright 2013 - 2017 by Mario Vaden
Stout coast redwood and Stout Grove are located in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, east of Crescent City, in the east 1/3 of the park. A main Hy. 199 crosses the park east to west, but to drive here, use the old historic Howland Hill Rd. inside the park. Off that old road is a small paved driveway to parking for Stout Grove. To reach Howland Hill Rd., use Douglas Park Rd., on the east side. Elk Valley Rd. provides access to Howland Hill Rd. from the Crescent City side. If Howland Hill Rd. is ever closed, or if you are camping, a seasonal bridge crosses the Smith River from the campground area during summer months. I have some extra about this loop on my other page Stout Grove trail
One of the most outstanding redwoods in Stout Grove is called Jedediah Smith. It towers much higher than Stout Tree, and remains the tallest coast redwood on that end of the park, one of the seven tallest coast redwoods in all Jedediah Smith and Redwoods State Park. The Jedediah Smith redwood is relatively unknown.
For as long as it may remain, the Stout coast redwood below is the largest recognized in the grove. It is located next to the trail. Stout redwood is huge, but it's not even among the 50 largest in the park. In 2007, author Richard Preston quoted redwood explorer Michael Taylor in that regard ... Taylor is one of two men who discovered the Grove of Titans, which are the largest of the biggest 50 he was referring too. Most of the other 50 largest were not names, nor big enough to compare to Grove of Titans redwoods which are the size Taylor is really interested to find. These are the Stout redwood dimensions recorded around the year 1998
Height: 325' / Diameter: 16.7' / Volume: 21,966 cu. ft.
I don't think volume was professionally recalculated. Stout redwood grew, but a huge chunk broke off too. The volume is probably the same. I measured the height around 2014 but didn't record it because the redwood isn't particularly large compared to much larger coast redwoods. But I remember the height was at least 320'. I have a 2008 tape wrap photo showing 16.71' diameter. So it's girth increased only 1/100 ft. over 15 years or so. That's not a great sign if Stout redwood only grew 1/10 in. girth in a decade or two. The decline may be related to the foot traffic compacting soil all around the trunk. But there is also a lot of flood sediment that may be stressing growth, and half the grove may be in decline no matter how good the color looks. One huge redwood fell around 2014, about 100 ft. away, and opened a 7 foot pit. That proved the fallen redwood germinated 7 feet beneath today's soil surface. A core sample in the visitor center showed one foot of sediment from the 1964 flood. Stout redwood's roots may also be buried under 7 ft. of sediment. And that also removed 7 ft. of it's height too, underground. Had there been no floods and sediments, it should be in better health and could have been 7 ft. taller, or more.
The old road is the main route to Stout Grove most of the year, but a seasonal bridge crosses the Smith River most of the summer. If the foot bridge is removed and if Howland Hill road is closed for some reason, you can reach Stout Grove by hiking Houchi Trail for about 2 miles from Hy. 199. You would need to cross Mill Creek barefoot in winter up to your ankles, shins or knees. It's probably worth it if the currents are gentle and water inches deep. But if there is a lot of rain, crossing deep current isn't recommended. Howland Hill road is generally open.
The Stout Grove seems to be one of the most photogenic groves. It has an open feel, a lot of sword fern, and not much in the way of heavy undergrowth. A paved path leads down to a smooth gravel loop which feels level even though there may be a slight slope. The redwoods are an impressive sight, and for photography it's typically rewarding both morning and evening..
For me , portraiture began here by the river with a water reflection photo of someone sitting on a boulder during one summer. The interior of Stout Grove has been a favorite place to photograph and meet people from all over the world.
Select images below to enlarge view
At one corner of the grove, an off-shoot path leads to the confluence of Mill Creek and the Smith River. Along that path is an interesting patch of horsetail plants which stand like reeds under Alders. If Mill Creek is low enough, you can reach a stony beach, and just around the corner some steps lead up to the ends of Mill Creek Trail and Hiouchi Trail. Up those steps you will find a beautiful small grove of Coast Redwoods overlooking the river.
Stout Grove is ever changing. In autumn, Vine Maple along the trail down from parking, turn color. Reflections at the river come and go as the the seasons change the river from turbulent to gently flowing.
Whereas Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park may easily be substituted by several other places in Redwood National and State Parks, few places can substitute for the feel of Stout Grove. If you are headed to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, make a serious effort to visit this redwood grove. Especially the first few hours of morning while many travelers are sleeping in or still going out for breakfast.
Fire tube in trunk of Stout Redwood ... the "coin slot" on the side:
Seen the narrow gap on the side of Stout Redwood's trunk? In a couple of photos on this page, the bottom of the opening is about head height, somewhat inconspicuous. I was curious about the interior size and appearance on the inside. My DSLR camera and lens was too big to fit inside, but my Canon camera flash fit through and was fired wireless. Two photos below are added showing the charred tunnel going up the trunk. Judging by blackened marks on other trunks in the grove, I suspect a ground fire burned up inside through the wound, rather than a lightning strike smouldering down.
Apparently the wound is closing over, and what's seen in the photos will vanish into obscurity in the years ahead. The gap is about the width of a hand, and widens quite a bit on the interior.