2016 by Mario Vaden
Stout Grove is a beautiful stand of coast redwoods in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, on the opposite side of the Smith River from the campground. This page was posted with the trail in mind. My other similar page predates this and was originally posted for one of the largest redwoods in that grove. Read:
Stout Coast Redwood
Around summer or early autumn, it can be reached with a seasonal foot bridge. Most of the rest of the year, you can drive, run, walk or ride there using Howland Hill Rd. that passes through the midst of the park ... select the map to the right to see ...
The total hike (walk or stroll) is about 0.6 miles long. For other directions, maps or questions about this grove or road conditions, check with the parks visitor centers
Howland Hill Rd., has gates on both ends and is locked before night sets in, and also like if a storm drops a trunk across the road. If from late autumn to late spring, if the old road is closed, you should be able to take Hiouchi trail from Highway 199, wade Mill Creek barefoot or in water shoes, and still enjoy it. Most of the year access is easy, and the walk down is more of a stroll than a hike.
Photo: Stout Redwood Grove, September 2010, at 5:48 pm
Especially for first-time visitors, if you enter from the parking area, pay attention to where you are going to return back up the same way. From the main parking, you drop down sort of NE into the grove. But about half way around, at the east end of the loop, a trail branches off along the Smith River, and heads roughly E x SE. Unless you purposely want to take that trail too, be sure to loop back all the way around to head back westward again.
There is more to the Stout Grove hiking loop than just a magnificent redwood grove.
In late May or June, you may find some Rhododendrons flowering along the drive in, and around the parking area. In autumn, there are patches of bigleaf maples with golden leaves in the distance. Depending on the year, you may get some nice leaf color on a few vine maples on the edge of the grove: this is the shortest species of maple in that forest. There are also a few Corylus (hazelnut), but those are not typically photographed for autumn foliage. If you see autumn foliage color climbing up the coast redwoods around there, don't touch those leaves because that is poison-oak: but it does look lovely.
As you hike around the lower loop, notice how the bark texture varies some from redwood to redwood. A few have burls or growths on them like the one shown below.
Photo: coast redwood burl at Stout Grove
During your visit, be sure to check out the perimeter of Stout Grove.
For photography, there is quite a bit to enjoy and work with. In summer when water is still, the Smith River offers big boulders and reflections (that happens to be what sparked my interest in portraiture). Mill Creek, also at it's edge, has stones, ferns and mosses, and is a nice place to relax or let children play.
There is a nice stand of alder trunks textured with moss, and some interesting rough horsetail, shown below.
Photo: patch of horsetail plants between Stout Grove and Mill Creek
In late autumn to early spring, very few people go in there, and parking is easy to get. Personally, the wet season is my favorite for hiking and photography anyway.
When summer comes, the place does not get crowded, but the parking area can fill up to capacity, like in July or August. But it would be easy to find parking on Howland Hill Rd. before turning into the short lane. So viewing this grove is really no problem. It's one of the more photogenic redwood stands, and worth checking out.