Copyright 2013 - 2016 by Mario Vaden
Stout coast redwood and Stout Grove are located in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, between Crescent City to the west and the Hamlet of Hiouchi slightly NE across the river. A main Hy. 199 crosses the park east to west, but to drive here you need to use the old historic Howland Hill Rd. inside the park. And from 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 from the Crescent City side.
One of the most outstanding redwoods in Stout Grove is the one called Jedediah Smith. It towers much higher than the Stout Tree, and may remain as the tallest coast redwood on that side of the park. It's one of the seven tallest coast redwoods in all of Jedediah Smith and Redwoods State Park. The Jedediah Smith coast redwood is relatively unknown.
For as long as it may remain, the Stout coast redwood shown below is the largest recognized in the grove. It is located next to the trail. These are the dimensions recorded around the year 1998
Height: 325' / Diameter: 16.7' / Volume: 21,966 cu. ft.
I don't think the volume has been professionally recalculated. Stout Redwood grew, but a huge chunk broke off too. The volume size is probably the same. I measured the height around 2014 but didn't record it because the redwood isn't particularly large compared to the much larger coast redwoods. But I remember the height was still at least 320'. I have a photo of a 2008 tape wrap showing 16.71' diameter. So it's girth increased only 1/100 ft. over 15 years or so. That's not a very good sign if Stout redwood only grew 1/10 inch girth in a decade or two. The decline in growth can be related to the foot traffic compacting soil all around the trunk.
The old road is the main route to Stout Grove most of the year, but a seasonal bridge crosses the Smith River from the campground during most of the summer. If the foot bridge is removed and if the old road gate 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. But it's probably worth it if the currents are gentle. Otherswise, the old 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 from morning until evening.
At my end, portraiture began here by the river with a water reflection photo of someone sitting on a boulder during the summer. The interior of Stout Grove has been a favorite place to photograph and meet people from around 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 spots in Redwood National and State Parks, few places if any can substitute for Stout Grove. If you are headed to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, make a serious effort to visit this redwood grove.
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.