Chimney Sweep

The Greatest Approach To Expertise California’s Majestic Redwoods

It is a magical feeling to be in the silence of a sequoia forest, surrounded by massive trees that tower hundreds of meters above you. There is also a sense of timelessness.

Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), one of three species of California sequoia, are the tallest trees in the world. They can grow to be more than 360 feet tall and up to 28 feet in diameter. They have an average lifespan of 500 to 700 years, and some live to be more than 2,000 years old.

Coast redwoods occupy a narrow strip of land on the west coast of the United States from southern San Francisco to southern Oregon, with the greatest concentration in Humboldt County, California. Here you will find the Avenue of the Giants, a world-famous panoramic road that winds through an impressive variety of sequoia trees.

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This will take you to the Avenue of the Giants

The Avenue of the Giants (California State Route 254) is a 51 mile long highway that runs parallel to US Route 101. Originally built in the 1880s as a stagecoach and wagon route, the road is considered a scenic alternative to US Route 101. It is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which has the largest remaining population of virgin sequoia trees in the world. Entry to Humboldt Redwoods State Park is free. It is therefore free to drive the avenue.

The south end of the avenue is north of Garberville, California, at Exit 645. The north end is south of Scotia, California, at Exit 674. The freeway exits are well marked. Whether you drive the avenue from south to north or north to south, you will be rewarded with impressive forest views.

The Avenue of the Giants in California.

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What to Know Before You Go

Your drive along the Avenue of the Giants can take anywhere from an hour to a full day. There is a speed limit of 45 mph on the two lane paved highway, but there are plenty of spots where you might want to take your time to fully enjoy your surroundings. Keep to the switches on the way so that the traffic can pass. There are also several places along the way where you might want to go for a hike, see a landmark, or just enjoy the view. I recommend allowing at least 2 hours for the drive and the stops.

While the drive through the trees is impressive, note that there are several spots where the trees meet the roadside. I spotted a couple of trees that looked like they had been damaged by passing vehicles. Slower. Enjoy the beauty of the forest, but don’t let that stop you from watching the road.

The weather in this part of California, while generally temperate, varies with the seasons. There can be a lot of rain during the winter months. Dress appropriately for the time of year. The weather can change quickly. Layers are recommended.

The Avenue of the Giants in California.

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Activities on the Avenue of the Giants

Take part in the car tour

Eight Auto Tour signs along the Avenue of the Giants point out information boards and places of interest to linger. The stops include short walks where you can experience the magic of the sequoia forest and places of historical importance. Auto Tour brochures are available at both ends of the avenue. Each stop is generally about 60 meters past their Auto Tour sign.

Visit the visitor center

You don’t have to stop at all of the Auto Tour stops, but I highly recommend visiting Stop 3, the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association Visitor Center. The exhibits will deepen your appreciation for the magnificent landscape you are driving through.

Displays inside and outside the center provide information about sequoias, area plant and animal life, local history, and the Save the Redwoods League. You will see the famous Kellogg Travel Log, the world’s first motorhome. It was carved from a fallen tree trunk and driven across country four times by the naturalist Charles Kellogg, a promoter of sequoia conservation. An off-center garden area contains many native plants and all three types of California sequoia trees.

Brochures and staff at the center provide information on hiking, camping and other facilities in the park.

Look at a chimney tree

The Living Chimney Tree, located near the southern end of the avenue, is a 78 foot tall sequoia tree that was hollowed out by a fire in 1914. You can enter a door at the base of the tree and look straight up at the sky. Free entry.

Another chimney tree, the Shrine Drive Thru Tree, is halfway down the avenue south of the visitor center. It has been expanded to allow vehicles to pass through, although you have to pay a fee to do so.

Tourists wander through the redwood forest.

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Explore the forest

You can experience the wonder of the sequoia trees without leaving your vehicle, but a walk in the woods will give you a different perspective. The tall trees and insulating ground cover create a calm, cool, calming space that feels mystical and otherworldly. It is easy to understand why sequoias are sacred places when you stand in the middle of the trees under the canopy of the forest, inhale the scent of the forest and feel a soothing serenity that surrounds you.

Take one of the paths to get to the trees. You don’t have to go all the way or go very far into the forest to feel the effects. But if you want to hike through the forest, you can do so; The routes vary in length and difficulty.

The branches of the trees along the easy 800 meter long Founders Grove Loop Trail only begin about 60 meters high in the trunks. Pick up a brochure at the starting point to go on a self-guided nature hike. This is where you will find the Dyerville Giant, the largest fallen sequoia tree in the world. It fell in 1991.

The 2.4-mile Drury-Chaney Loop Trail, also rated easy, is known for its dense growth and carpet of redwood sorrel.

The easy, flat, 600 km Gould Grove Nature Loop Trail across the highway from the visitor center has a series of signs explaining how sequoias resist fire, insects, and floods. However, the trees here are not as big as others in the park.

All three of these trails are ADA compliant and open all year round.

Ask about other walks at the visitor center or visit the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association website, which lists walks from easy to strenuous along the Avenue of the Giants or within a few miles. Note that pets are not allowed on the paths.

Where shall we eat

Several day use areas offer space for a picnic.

Next to the visitor center is a lawn with picnic tables and toilets.

Picnic tables at Dyerville Overlook, 7 km north of the visitor center, overlook the Eel River.

The California Federation of Women’s Clubs Grove, 3 miles north of the visitor center, has picnic tables, BBQ areas, restrooms, river access, and a hiking trail. Hearthstone is a major attraction in this grove. The four-sided fireplace, designed by architect Julia Morgan (who also designed Hearst Castle), is made from native stone and mammoth wood.

All three of these day use areas are free and open all year round.

A grill next to the Living Chimney Tree serves burgers, pies and ice cream specialties. It also offers gluten-free and vegan options. The Eternal Tree House is both an attraction and a café. The 20-foot space was carved from the stump of a sequoia tree and sits under the floor.

The Avenue of the Giants runs through several small towns. Cafes and coffee shops can be found in the towns of Myers Flat, Miranda and Phillipsville.

A cabin at the Miranda Gardens Resort.

Miranda Gardens

Where to sleep

If you want to spend more than a day exploring the redwoods, there are several accommodation options.

The towns of Scotia and Garberville, north and south of the Avenue of the Giants, offer a variety of places to stay.

You can camp along the avenue itself at Burlington Campground adjacent to the visitor center and at Hidden Springs Campground and Giant Redwoods RV & Camp in Myers Flat.

Built in 1929, the Miranda Gardens Resort in Miranda is a classic American cabin camp resort with 16 renovated cottages.

The Myers Inn at Myers Flats is a 10 room bed and breakfast inn. However, accommodations tend to be booked up quickly, so early reservations are recommended.

Whether you are cruising the Avenue of the Giants in a couple of hours, spending a day among the sequoia trees, or staying for several days to explore the area, the majesty of these towering trees is sure to give you an unforgettable experience.

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