Spoiler: Skip to the bottom for directions …
In my quest to find and see some giant redwoods I planned a drive down the dusty Howland Hill Road in Jedadiah Smith Redwood State Park: You can take a virtual trip down this dirt road in Google Maps using street view — six miles of a rough, narrow, winding road. Browsing Google Maps, a tantalizing nugget of information came into view: A pin labeled “Grove of Titans”, what was that? More research reveals it to be the site of some of the world’s largest redwoods, exactly what I’d like to find and experience. Where are they?
Your can’t believe everything you find on the internet, right? The pin on Google Maps locating the grove is, just a red herring (and has since been removed), to divert people from finding the actual grove on the other side of the road. As you look for information you’ll struggle to find the exact location of the grove — supposedly out of fear that humans will damage the trees and the site. Naturally I do understand and appreciate the damage which humans can do, especially to the surrounding vegetation — so don’t go climbing on the trees to pose for photographs! Park stewards, if they seriously believed in protecting this resource, should install elevated plank walkways around these beautiful trees, to contain foot traffic to a manageable path – not hope that it remains undiscovered!
What I do not appreciate is this being an open secret amongst an elite community of folks who appear to be trading off their knowledge of where the grove is hidden within public property. Surely if this state park is kept and maintained at taxpayer expense then we the taxpayers should have access to it and all known information about it? Well yes, to the park, but not the information which would lead you to the grove.
One can appreciate the mystery of trawling the internet for clues, as I have done, to make an educated guess as to where the grove is located — and then enjoy hunting for it with no guarantee of success, much like looking for a geocache. Only thing is, when you’re driving a distance to see giant redwoods you’d want more than an educated guess as to where they are to be found — especially if you have a couple of health issues which prevent you from hiking around endlessly to find them. So, I’m on a quest to locate the grove as precisely as I can, in advance of my visit, mitigating against extended exploratory hikes and minimizing the meds it’ll take me to suffer through it — although I know it’ll be well worth the find. While still an enigmatologist*, I’m no longer as physically able as I was in younger, healthier days.
These titans, as giant redwoods are called, have names: Aldebaran, Aragorn, Eärendil and Elwing (maybe also known as the Fused Titan or Chesty Puller), El Viejo Del Norte, Del Norte, Lost Monarch, Screaming Titans and Stalagmight.
Possible spoiler alert, please don’t read further if you want to unravel the mystery of where the grove is located yourself — I do not wish to deny you that pleasure. At the time of writing I have not actually located and visited the grove, but I think the Grove of Titans is here (41.777028, -124.100583).
Several clues — and red herrings — garnered off the net suggest that: One of the titans, El Viejo Del Norte (old man of the North), with its distinctive burl, is visible from The Mill Creek Trail, is located in a glade in a notch-like valley at the confluence of two creeks†, not too far from Stout Grove and, I believe, near a footbridge‡ on the trail. Side-by-side comparisons of The Mill Creek trail, the USGS map and the Google map of the area — with the aforementioned clues in mind — I see the footbridge, the confluence of Mill Creek with another hidden creek† and, in satellite view, a glade near enough to the trail with some rather high trees nearby.
What a pity that neither Google Maps nor Apple’s Maps have 3D views working in these forests, else we’d be able to see the titans standing head and shoulders above the canopy.
I didn’t write this post to brag about my armchair “discovery” of the site — I’m appealing to fellow dendrophiles§ to confirm, in comments below, the location of the Grove of Titans or provide me with clear directions to the actual location based on first hand knowledge of visiting the site. Much appreciated!
Update: Here they are …
Before venturing out to this beautiful grove, please educate yourself about the damage humans can inadvertently do to these beautiful trees and their surrounds. Some people disparage the publishing of this information, I prefer transparency. Arborist Mario Vaden has a good primer on how to behave in the presence of these majestic trees, please read and heed his warnings here.
Chesty Puller 41.77760 -124.10088
El Viejo del Norte 41.77852 -124.10065
Lost Monarch 41.77814 -124.10075
Screaming Titans 41.77874 -124.10136
… opposite side of creek …
Del Norte Titan 41.77763 -124.09907
*Enigmatology: The analysis of enigmas.
†Google Maps doesn’t show all the creeks, the USGS map does.
‡Mill Creek Trail map shows bridges whereas nether Google nor USGS maps do.
Suggested reading: Mario Vaden’s article The Forest Weeps | Wikipedia’s List of superlative trees and Grove of Titans | NPR’s Reaching the Tops of the World’s Tallest Trees an interview with Richard Preston, author of The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring | Grove of Titans | Orion Magazine article A Day of Discovery by Richard Preston | USGS topographical map of Hiouchi, CA which covers the Jedadiah Smith Redwood State Park | Map of The Mill Creek Trail