Hiking Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

We came to see trees, big ones, like those we’d read about in Jean Craighead George’s novel, My Side of the Mountain. Like the 12-year-old boy in it, could we carve a home in the trunk of a tree?

Coming from Oregon, the closest state park with redwoods was Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Northern California, named after a trapper who cut his way through in 1826. But we found the paved access road leading to the towering trees and lush grounds of Stout Memorial Grove Trail blocked. After two weeks of travel, our 7-year-old daughter didn’t have the energy to walk to the trailhead (nor did we have the energy to carry her). So we hiked the Simpson-Reed Trail, a short, one-mile roadside loop, instead.

Our kids, newly energized, bolted ahead, gazing up at the towering canopy formed by the 1,000-year-old redwoods, circling their bases, climbing up the crumbling bark best they could, and crossing a stream by scooting across a felled tree that had cracked open, sprouting thick ferns.

They’re such satisfied creatures in nature. Then again, so am I.

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