This short trail behind the Prairie Creek visitor's center but provides a good sample of the terrains and redwoods of the Prairie Creek area. Right next to this is Elk Prairie, often frequented by the park's Elk herd.
Impressive but not oft visited grove in the Hiochi area of the park. The trail is off a side road on Hwy 199 that is not well marked. Numerous trails split off this parking area but the Simpson grove is by far the best.
If your ego is getting too big, there's no better place to go than the Stout Grove, Redwood National Forest in California. It gives you some perspective of lifespam and the beauty of mother nature. be prepared to see the oldest living things on Earth... yes, older than your grandma, older than the pyramids.
Across the beach from the overlook you will see the DeMartin House. This was a thriving ranch and dairy farm owned by Louis and Agnes DeMartin. Mrs. DeMartin was famous for her hospitality and her skills in the kitchen including baking great fresh bread. Over the years, numerous traders and others trekking along the coastal trails took advantage of the DeMartin’s hospitality. They were instrumental in the development and improvement of routes between Eureka and Crescent City, culminating in US Highway 101. In keeping with the tradition of hospitality the DeMartins were famous for, their house is now an American Youth Hostel, still providing lodging and rest to weary travelers from around the world.
Not far north of Lady Bird Johnson Grove is Lost man Creek. The area along Lost Man Creek offers another slight variation on the environment of the redwood forest. The constant availability of water enables other types of trees and plants to mingle with the redwood giants.
Here you see an area with a dense cover of ferns. This area was badly damaged by a fire. The ferns, like these Sword Ferns, are the first plants to inhabit these burned out areas. Along with grasses and mosses, they live and die enriching the soil for the wildflowers and low shrubs that sustain the roots of the Douglas Fir, the Hemlock and the Coast Redwood beginning the 1000 year cycle for old growth forests.
Redwoods do not die easily, and even after they do they provide life and safety to the forest. The trees frequently lean against each other and provide roosts for birds and food for insects. After they eventually fall they provide food for other land bound animals.
This area was clear-cut by the logging industry in the 1960s. Notice how much smaller these trees are and the absence of any of the real giants. Nothing was left here but the stumps of the trees. The forest is recovering though and will return to its natural state.
This hollowed out redwood is a fire survivor. The fire that helps clear out the underbrush frequently also kills the trees; but not the redwood. The thick bark of a redwood does not contain volatile resins like pines, and firs and its sap is mostly water. This makes the redwood more resistant to fire, however, fire can get through cracks in the bark and damage the more tender inner part of the tree. The hollowed out trees like this one provide important shelter for wildlife.
The scientific name for the Coastal Redwood is “sempervirens” which translates to “everlasting”. Some of these trees were here when the Mayans and the Aztecs flourished or when Marco Polo traversed the Asian continent.
There is a booklet you can buy that will tell you information about the trees and their forest. The information coresponds to numbers on the trail. The first stop is entitled Timeless. Walking through the grove it is easy to imagine the people who entered the groves thousands of years ago. Many of these trees have been here over 500 years and some as many as 2000. They are growing in nutrients provided by the previous generation of trees. How many people have looked up in awe at these 370 foot tall giants?
As you hike along the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, there is a plaque on the trail where former President Richard M. Nixon dedicated this grove to Lady Bird Johnson on 27 August 1969 in recognition of her efforts to help preserve the redwoods and other natural wonders.
If you are approaching the park from the south, as I did, then your first stop should be the Kuchel Visitors Center. Here you can get trail maps and other brochures about attraction in the park and view exhibits about the redwoods, the coastline and other topics. There are also exhibits outside the building which tell about the area and even a tale or two from Native Americans indigenous to the area, that may be of interest.
I tried to count the number of rings on this “small” redwood but I was surprised to find that there were not so many and that they were not very clearly printed. I wonder if this is because the redwoods grow all year round given that along the coast winters are mild? Anybody have a clue?
The “World Famous Tree House, Believe it or not" is pictured on thousands of postcards and posters. The above motto gets 121 answers on the web! For ““World Famous Tree House”, there are 1640 answers and most if not all of them refer to this very tree.
The Fraternal Monarch Tree is 83 meters high with a diameter of 11 meters and a circumference close to 34 meters. It is considered to be more than 4,000 years old and was hollowed by a forest fire 800 years ago but is still living and vigorously growing. I have not found when a house was carved in the basement of the tree but postcards dating from 1947 already show it, same as it is now.