Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Even in a land of giant tree forests, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park stands out. As the most northerly of California’s major redwood parks, this area is heavily saturated through the winter by frequent rain storms and temperatures are kept mild by fog through the summer, both of which produce gigantic redwoods.
No description of Jedediah Smith Redwoods would be complete without mentioning the Grove of Titans, home to ten of the world's largest trees, including the incredibly wide Chesty Puller (picture one). The grove was only discovered in 1998 and accessed through a short, unofficial short trail off of the 7.4 mile Mill Creek Trail (picture two). Nowhere else anywhere in Cascadia does a small area boast such a collection of huge trees.
Two more popular hikes, the 0.5 mile Stout Grove (picture three) and the 5.2 mile Boy Scout Tree Trail offer hikers access to Jedediah Smith Redwoods rich interior and the enormous redwoods that grow in its dense underbrush.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Along with Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is home to the largest trees in Cascadia, including the 2nd and 4th largest single-stem coast redwoods, Iluvatar and Newton B. Drury (picture one), respectively. This park boasts some of the best hikes in the region, including the The Miners' Ridge and James Irvine Loop, which travels through giant redwood forests to a wild and undeveloped beach, and through the lush Fern Canyon - a natural, narrow gorge lined with thick ferns and moss.
The park is also home to one of my favorite redwood hikes, the Valley of the Lost Groves. This unmarked and unmaintained trail passes through wonderfully lush scenery and huge trees like Titanic Cathedral (picture two) - a cathedral tree that formed after the main trunk was damaged and several basal sprouts grew in a ringlike pattern around it.
redwood National Park
Redwood National Park is the only federally-owned land within the Redwood National and State Parks system covered in this report. The Redwood Creek Basin is central to the national park’s old growth region. It contains the iconic Tall Trees Grove, including Melkor (picture one), the 2nd largest multi-stem redwood, is an example of an awesomely wide “fusion tree” - essentially, two of more trees that have fused their trunks into one over many years.
The park is home to the Howard Libbey Tree, which was world’s tallest known tree in the 1960s, a fact that helped motivate the creation of the park. Although taller trees were later found in other parks, the Redwood Creek Basin once again became the site of the record holder in 2006 when the 379-foot-tall "Hyperion" tree was discovered.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
To many redwood forest enthusiasts, Humboldt Redwoods holds the title for tall tree capital of the world. Some of the trees found here are among the tallest ever recorded and its overall canopy height is astonishing.
The Dyerville Giant, for example, was retroactively designated the tallest tree in the world after its collapse in 1991 revealed it to have stood 362 feet high. This redwood’s fall shook the ground so much that it registered on a nearby seismograph and one local, who heard the impact from half a mile away, thought a train had crashed. The same forces that felled the great Dyerville also took down a number of other giants in Founders Grove, revealing their massive undersides (picture one).
Humboldt Redwoods is also home to the Bull Creek State Wilderness - an area of towering trees that has been called the tallest forest in the world. Dozens of trees over 350 feet tall grow in the Bull Creek area, along with the 372-foot Stratosphere Giant (a former “worlds tallest tree”), .