Simpson-Reed Discovery Trail at Jedediah Smith State Park

Simpson-Reed Discovery Trail at Jedediah Smith State Park

We’re big fans of road trips, especially those with multiple home bases. For this road trip from Sacramento to Crater Lake National Park to Redwood National And State Parks to Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Avenue Of The Giants, we used several different hotels as jumping off points for our adventures. In Crescent City, we stayed at Oceanfront Lodge, also called the Redwood Oceanfront Resort and the Oceanfront Lodge Seaside Restaurant & Bar.

It wasn’t the nicest place we’ve stayed, but they sold wine and cold beer, the staff was friendly, and our balcony overlooked the beach and a stunning sunset. Just a short walk from the Battery Point Lighthouse,the lodge’s beachfront location was perfect for exploring California’s north coast and Redwood National And State Parks.

Our first full day began with a short drive back to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We loved the gorgeous Stout Grove Memorial Trail so much that we wanted to explore some more trails in the park.

Jedediah Smith State Park

A few miles inland from the coast, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park contains seven percent of all of the old-growth redwoods left in the world.

The park was named for Jedediah Strong Smith, who in the 1820s, became the first white man to explore the interior of northern California. It was established in 1929, with the donation of the 44 acre Stout Grove to Save The Redwoods League.

Simpson-Reed Discovery Trail

Our first stop was the Simpson-Reed Discovery Trail, an easy, flat, 0.6 mile loop trail with interpretive signs that provide facts on forest ecology.

Compared to the clean, open Stout Grove with practically no undergrowth, the Simpson-Reed Trail felt pretty wild and jungly. In this ancient forest, 1,000 year-old redwoods form a towering canopy over hemlock trees covered in moss and lichen, bright green maple trees, and a thick blanket of sword ferns, huckleberries, and redwood sorrel. The damp shade of the forest creates ideal conditions for red-legged frogs, rough-skinned newts, and other amphibians that depend on the trees to provide moisture through the dry summer, assuring a home for a class of animals that are in decline.

Massive fallen trees form forts and expose huge roots, yellow banana slugs peek out of the ferns and fallen leaves, and decaying nurse trees provide life for new ferns and saplings. We were amazed by the size of the coastal redwoods and the enormous roots of the fallen trees and had a lot of fun climbing inside trees hollowed out by fire.

This short trail was totally worth the stop!

Know Before You Go

  • Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is located 9.0 miles east of Crescent City on Highway 199 in Redwood National and State Parks in Del Norte County.
  • The Simpson-Reed Discovery Trail is a wheelchair-accessible, compacted gravel trail in the Walker Road Day Use Area, right off Highway 199. The trailhead is 0.1 mile up Walker Road and it has a vault restroom.
  • The 10,000 acre park and campground are open year-round. Day use areas are open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Download the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Brochure.
  • Jedediah Smith Redwoods Campground has 87 family campsites, with some able to accommodate trailers or motor homes up to 36 feet. It also four ADA accessible cabins for rent. The cabins have electricity, heaters, an outdoor barbecue, and two twin over double bunk beds. There is no kitchen, bathroom, mattresses, or bedding.
  • Summer temperatures are 45-85 degrees and winter temperatures range from 30-60 degrees. From November through May, rainfall can reach up to 100 inches.
  • Dogs must be on a leash no more than six feet long and must be confined to a tent or vehicle at night. Except for service animals, pets are not allowed on trails.
  • Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks joined with Redwood National Park to form Redwood National and State Parks in 1994. Today, the four parks’ combined 133,000 acres contain 45 percent of California’s old growth redwood forest. They have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and form a portion of the protected California Coast Ranges Biosphere Reserve.
  • Del Norte Coast Redwoods, Jedediah-Smith Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods are the only parks in the California State Parks system that accept the Federal Access Pass discount.

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