Driving down HWY101, the Pacific Coast Highway, is a treat on its own, but there’s this little alternate route that starts a bit south of Fortuna, Ca. It is known as The Avenue of the Giants. From the website:
This world-famous scenic drive is a 31-mile portion of old Highway 101, which parallels Freeway 101 with its 51,222 acres of redwood groves. It is by far the most outstanding display of these giant trees in the entire 500 mile redwood belt and is accessible to all with convenient services provided along the way. The Avenue of the Giants is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park which has the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world. Take time to picnic, camp, hike, swim, fish, raft or bike ride in the cool hush of these ancient redwood forests.
We pulled off the main highway onto the Avenue of the Giants, and stopped at the first information booth we saw. We collected a little brochure that informed us that there was an auto tour, with 8 stops, along the highway. We decided to hit every one, and pretty much managed to do so. At each location we got out of the car and went hiking. It was a long and tiring day, but we had a wonderful time! We also stopped at a number of the little tourist shops on the way, as well as the visitor’s center where we viewed displays about the trees, animals, and native Americans and we even watched a very interesting documentary movie about the redwoods.
As we hiked, we read all the signs along the way.
Big tree, little tree.
A fellow hiker volunteered to take our photo.
It was good they cleared the paths… there’s no easy way to step over these fallen trees!
One tree died, but others grow on top of the fallen trunk.
The shade was deep, and the sun was bright, my family glows!
Brian tries to find the top…
One of the many tourist places we stopped… there was a house built into the stump of a downed tree. Not actually a house, but a very large room with a window and door. Apparently it had been used by Native Americans and trappers as a shelter before it became a tourist gift shop. Now, the gift shop is located in another building, and there wasn’t much to photograph, so I didn’t, but it was interesting to see how big it was inside.
On to another trail. The kids hiked for miles!
A view back to the road. This highway was very narrow. In many places, the trees were right out on the edge of the road.
The kids found a little stream running across the path.
A couple of motorcycles just happened to drive by as I was taking this photo… gives the trees some scale.
One of the stops on the auto tour was a place to look out over the Eel River. I turned in on a dirt road right before the stop, where I’d seen a truck pull out, and we found ourselves down at the riverbank. The water was crystal clear, and we thought about wading, but it was kinda chilly, and the first rock I pulled out of the shallow water had a leech on it. Hmm? Eel? Leech?
You know the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees”? I found myself thinking of that… not for its figurative meaning, but the literal. These trees were incredibly big. My camera was overwhelmed… there was no way to capture the massiveness of these redwoods with a photo. I tried though.
Aagh! It’s the tree that ate my family!
Some interesting facts about redwoods:
Even after the tree falls, it is very resistant to fire, insects, and rot, and may lay where it is, for centuries.
Along the way, we saw dedications to people who worked to save these trees. I’m grateful that they did!
Did I mention? There were flowers too… I just spent most of that day looking up!