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|Redwood National Park|
Jedediah Smith State Park & the Stout Grove
As discussed above, California's Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service cooperate in management of the national and three state parks which make up the park complex. The three state parks contain 27,000 acres of forest, prairie, and coastline. When the original national park was created, it was implied that the three state parks might someday be transferred to the national park, but this has never actually taken place.
The northernmost of the state parks is Jedediah Smith State Park. Founded in 1923, this park was named after explorer Jedediah Smith who, ironically, never set foot in the which currently comprises the park. The park is served by the Hiouchi Information Center, which is shown below. The building features a 60 seat auditorium, exhibits, and various information facilities. It is located on Highway 199 which runs from Crescent City, California to Cave Junction, Oregon, known as the "Redwood Highway."
One of the outstanding attractions of Jedediah Smith State Park is the Stout Grove. This section of the park, with its spectacular old growth redwood trees, was added to the park in 1929. This grove is reached by following Howland Hills Road, on the route of an old wagon road that itself followed the route of the older Cold Springs Mountain Trail. A portion of the parking lot, and the giant trees surrounding it, is shown below.
A 1.6 mile trail runs through the heart of the grove, south of the Smith River and screened from the river bed by willow trees. It is level, wide, and affords great accessibility to the impressive redwood trees.
The Jedediah Smith State Park's Stout Grove contains some of the most magnificent redwood trees in the park complex. The tallest redwood trees are equal in height to a 35 story skyscraper. This grove also contains the Stout Tree, which is the bulkiest known coast redwood. It is 340 feet tall and 16 feet in diameter at chest height.
Most visitors to the grove undoubtedly value the trees for their value as they exist in nature, but they have been used for their commercial value as lumber for many years. Indians used redwood for canoes, for wall planks and roofs for their houses, and for tools and other implements. Settlers used the lumber for construction as well. Much of the city of San Francisco was originally built from lumber cut from trees growing on the hills around San Francisco Bay. Later, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge used over 7 million board feet of redwood lumber.
The trunks of some massive redwood trees in the Stout Grove are shown below.
Part of the beauty of the redwood grove is that, since the redwood is not a deciduous tree, it does not lose its greenery in the fall and winter. The redwood needles live about 4 or 5 years, and are usually shed in the autumn when the leaves of deciduous trees fall.
Falled redwoods may serve as a nursery for young redwoods or, sometimes, western hemlocks.
Redwood trees can reproduce in a couple of different ways. They may grow from one of the 60 seeds contained in each cone, and of which one in a million will become a mature tree. Alternatively, new redwoods may sprout from burls or fallen logs, such as the one shown below. The wood of a redwood tree is so resistant to decay that hundreds of years may pass before the final traces of a redwood which has fallen, like this one, are no longer evident.
As mentioned above, redwoods are resistant to fire, insects, age, and other factors which end the life of other types of trees. In fact, the redwood has no mechanism which corresponds to aging in human beings. The redwood's life is typically ended by some fires, high winds, and floods. Redwoods cannot stand prolonged periods of inundation by water, but high winds are the most serious threat.
The redwood trees in the Stout Grove lie near the northernmost range of the species. Redwoods for the most part grow no further north than the Oregon/California border, although there is a small grove 14.5 miles north of the border. The Oregon border is only a few miles north of the Jedediah Smith State Park.
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