2017 by Mario Vaden
Boy Scout Redwood trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is one of the best hikes in the park. Approximately 2.6 miles each way, or 5.2 miles total. It could be a close tie with James Irvine trail of Prairie Creek. The Boy Scout Redwood trail offers quite a few "revelations" because there are many winding curves where you find out what's on the other side only by proceeding. The destination of Fern Falls is cute, but can be seasonal. The fallz diminish to a trickle in the summer, but doesn't dry up completely. The Rhododendrons are also seasonal, but there are an appreciable number of them in May and June, showing off trusses of flowers.
Boyscout Redwood, along route:
Diameter (dbh average) = 23.24 ft. - Height, approximate = 238 ft.
I found several different distances listed. A California State Parks site said 7.5 miles round trip. National Park Service had 5.8 miles. And one more by redwoodhikes.com. said 5.3 miles. My time on this trail and moderate ease, suggests that www.redwoodhikes.com is correct. If you are approaching Redwood National and State Parks from the south and time matters, you can hike by equal and larger redwoods in Prairie Creek park on trails from the visitor center, like Prairie Creek trail. But if you make it up to Jedediah Smith park, don't miss the Boyscout redwood trail
Fern Falls - the flow of water ranges from a gusher to a trickle depending on whether it's late summer or winter rain storm. Personally, I enjoy the waterfalls best the day after a heavy rain storm ends. Fern falls is a series of extra small waterfalls about 200 feet long. Most of the little ones are out of sight and not particularly easy to photograph together. The wide angle image shows fern falls behind expired evergreen. Surges of storm runoff continually change the area.
Some folks like sunny days best on this trail. Pesonally I prefer moist, cloudy or foggy. It's more mysterious and lighting is superb for photography. But its a great hike sunny or cloudy, and some days you may get both.
Another photo below shows the hiking trail's namesake Boyscout redwood. It's one of the best photo ops for a large redwood along the trail. Maybe one minute off the trail on an unmarked spur. The first part of the hike has a dense population of good size coast redwoods. Then there is a glade of sword fern in the understory near mid-way of the hike. That mid-way is another excellent photo op, a spot I chose to photograph an entire school class. Next comes 5 to 10 minutes where scenery includes a lot of smaller Western Hemlock and Sitka spruce, but it's pretty. Keep your eyes peeled for an unmarked path to the right in the last 1/3 of the hike for the Boy Scout redwood. There are a few hills but the grade is forgiving and this is relatively easyfor it's length.
About the Boyscout redwood, it's a double stem originating from two separate side-by-side trunks which expanded girth and merged. The upper part of the trunk (s) makes it's more evident. The crown is full and very interesting array of branches twisted by many years of growth and storms.
Crescent City American A Del Norte publication of Crescent City, December 16, 1926 - April 22, 1969
July 1931 reprinted July 26, 2013 by Del Norte Triplicate, Pages of History
"The redwood tree in Elk Valley, known as the Boy Scout Tree, is the largest yet discovered according to Fred Patterson, the man who makes Patterson’s pictures of the redwoods. Mr. Patterson made a trip here this week from Santa Rosa, where he now resides, to take the measurements of the tree and found it to be 31 feet in diameter. It is larger than the General Sherman tree in the Mariposa group, the big tree in Bull Creek Flat in Humboldt County, or any tree yet discovered. The big tree is 87 feet in circumference, it being of oval shape, and was probably at one time two separate trees. The trees have merged and grown together until they reach a height of 250 feet above the ground. Mr. Patterson has searched for a long time to find the largest tree and was much delighted to find it in Del Norte County."
There is no way Boy Scout Redwood matches up against General Sherman: almost a pipe-dream. But its still huge and worth checking out. I think Patterson measured the elliptical trunk mass at the widest point on the ground rather than circumference wrap for average diameter. National Park Service website stated Boyscout namesake was due to discovery by a local troop leader.
Los Angeles Times article, Mrs. Smith Goes to the Redwoods, June 25, 1995 stated Boy Scout redwood is visited by a trail constructed by a Boy Scout Troop 10 of Crescent City, in the 1930s. I don't know if that means the short spur trail, the main hiking trail, or both.
There are also some tall Sitka Spruce near the latter reach of the trail that are in the range of 280 ft. to 300 ft., which is very tall for spruce. For those who notice what appear like old traces of extra trail by the falls ... there are trails, and there is a reason. The vicinity of the falls has bears and elk using an intricate network of animal trails among the forest and ferns.
Photo: Boyscout Redwood ... enough space for a group photo