The Rogue Valley's Hike of the Week: Jedediah Smith Redwoods

The Rogue Valley's

Hike of the Week

Jedediah Smith Redwoods


by Thom Larkin


Driving Distance

Roughly 126 miles, one-way

How to get there

This is another hike that is a long drive away. But if you have never been to the giant redwoods, it is worth it. From Ashland, drive north to Grants Pass. Take the first Grants Pass exit, Exit 55, to Highway 199. Follow this road through town and it becomes the Redwood Highway. From here continue along Highway 199 and continue into California. There was road construction being done during my visit out to the Redwoods, so there might be some delays.

There will be signs on the road for Jedediah Smith State Park. There are many different trails one can take in the Redwoods, but the easiest to find is the Simpson-Reed Grove. It is shortly after the bridge that crosses the Smith River. It is on the right-hand side of Highway 199 and has public restrooms.

The drive is roughly two and half hours one-way.

Hikes available

Stout Grove (0.6 miles) — This small grove by the side of the Smith River is the most scenic redwood grove in existence. Best seen in the late afternoon, the grove has a remarkable cathedral-like appearance, hushed and serene, with huge, straight trees rising through the gloom into brilliantly backlit foliage.

The Boy Scout Tree Trail (5.2 miles) — An extraordinary out-and-back hike that proceeds through a variety of redwood environments, from a low-lying plain with a pure grove of ancient redwoods, to an upland environment with smaller trees, to a mixed-species forest dotted with monster redwoods. The drive to the trailhead, along a narrow dirt road that leads through superb old-growth redwoods, only adds to the mystique of the hike.

The Mill Creek Trail (7.4 miles) — Starting at Stout Grove, the Mill Creek Trail follows Mill Creek four miles upstream. The scenery is not as redwood-intensive as might be expected, since the redwoods don't grow right along the banks of the creek. Nonetheless, this is a nice hike.

The Hatton Trail (4.3 miles) — This hike starts across Highway 199 from the Simpson-Reed Trail and climbs a hillside above the highway. As the trail climbs, it passes through an interesting variety of redwood environments, from dense, lush lowlands to sun-dappled uplands. Although scenery is superb, traffic noise makes it difficult to really appreciate this hike.

The Simpson-Reed Trail (0.9 miles) — One of the most popular trails in the park, mainly due to its location on Highway 199. This short loop has a strikingly lush look that's noticably different from the rest of the park.

The Leiffer and Ellsworth Loops (2.0 miles) — Each of these two connected loops climbs and then descends a hillside, passing by a few stretches of big redwoods along the way. This is one of Jed Smith's less spectacular hikes, but on the positive side there isn't much traffic noise.

Information on Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park taken fromredwoodhikes.com/Jed%20Smith/Jed%20Smith.html