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Redwood revelations

There are groves of the majestic trees within a short driving distance
 Posted: 2:00 AM August 03, 2013

It's easy to see why George Lucas chose the California and Oregon redwoods to film parts of "Return of the Jedi," the popular "Star Wars" sequel. The redwoods, scientific name Sequoia sempervirens, are mysterious and downright mesmerizing, with some more than 2,200 years old.

They can grow to heights that surpass the Statue of Liberty at 305 feet. The tallest redwood known to tree hunters towers at an astonishing 379 feet, and its location is a closely guarded secret. The average diameter of redwoods is 20 feet. But many of us humans meander by them without a second thought, even though some were growing before Jesus was born.

There are several places within easy driving distance where you can view redwoods and truly appreciate their size and longevity. Each grove is different. One can be among a blanket of ferns, and another not 20 feet away can be in a marsh.

Here are two of the most popular and accessible places to see the redwoods:

  • Stout Grove, located in Jedediah Smith State Park, south of Brookings and just outside of Crescent City, Calif. Many people think of this grove when they think of the redwoods. It is a beautiful and easy 0.6-mile stroll, and is near where "Return of the Jedi" was filmed. It is near the Smith River, the only major undammed river in California. The river is crystal-clear and sports runs of wild chinook salmon and steelhead.
  • Trees of Mystery, located in Klamath, Calif., 36 miles south of the Oregon border. The name for this large redwood "park" is not misleading. It is home to the "Cathedral Tree," the "Elephant Tree" and the "Candelabra Tree," each describing the way the redwoods grew and survived despite hardships. A popular gondola ride, called the SkyTrail, snakes through the upper canopy, providing a bird's-eye view of the giant trees.

Amelia Covert Zeve is an Ashland High School student and freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her via email at

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