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grove of titans frames

 

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 NorteLost MonarchScreaming 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).

grove of titans - google mapSeveral 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

grove of titans - tree locations

*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.
§Tree lovers.

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

5 Comments

  1. When I read your opening paragraphs, it seemed maybe you already looked. The main head start I can offer is in the factual arena. The Grove of Titans holds no record-breakers like you suggested, although there are a few big ones. The Nat Geo magazine centerfold of 2009, in Prairie Creek, was the largest. Then in 2014, many new titans were found in the outer reaches of Redwood National and State Parks, surpassing the Grove of Titans or Nat Geo tree. The following page has updates.

    http://www.mdvaden.com/redwood_year_discovery.shtml

    • Mario as you you must know better than I, records are based on numbers and a credible scorekeeper — and it depends on what you’re measuring: Height, diameter, volume, age etc. Your own article admits “As preliminary numbers sit, these redwoods are near equal or greater than the 39,100, 37,500 or 36,500 ft3 of Melkor, Illuvatar and Lost Monarch” and “In light of the new giant Coast Redwoods discovered, I can’t say that Grove of Titans in Jedediah Smith has the largest redwood known” — so new discoveries may have broken some records, but not all, and the new metrics have yet to be peer-reviewed/confirmed and make it into some credible lists, right?

      Semantics, tape measures and new claims aside, my post is about the excitement and joy of experiencing titan redwoods for the first time. Being from Southern Africa I’ve enjoyed first-hand the much broader, albeit shorter, baobab: Loner trees which are easy to find in typically arid landscapes — with diameters recorded up to 50′. I’m looking forward to seeing my first titan redwood …

  2. The new finds were peer reviewed last year. The new find’s single trunks are far beyond the main stems of the previous giants. But Del Norte Titan etc., are still remarkable redwoods.

    The new discoveries broke both volume and diameter records. In multiples. I can’t reveal new information on height yet, because there’s an article or two in the works about something else.

    You may have already read about the single stem Coast Redwood over 29 ft. diameter. That’s actually Screaming Titans width, but one stem and not twins.

    Much out there yet to be discovered it seems.

    Enjoy your trek, cheers, MDV

  3. Mr. Vaden, a question. When I was out there in 2014 I was interested and found the GOT, but was more interested in the Stout Grove tour actually. I found it much more interesting to talk to to a Park Service expert and walk down a trodden path rather than stump humping and bushwacking it. One question I asked that I want to ask you is about the root systems which the guide told me are pushing 10,000 years in Stout Grove. What I discovered is that the “shoots” from the damaged trees grow into “new redwoods” that have their own tree rings. And… that the age of the redwoods is determined by the number of rings NOT by the actual tree that started the offgrowth. This is interesting to me because it would imply these “offshoots” are actually part of much older growth in roots that is 10K years old. To me the most impressive thing is the roots which are immensely old dating back to the receding glaciers. Can you please shed some light on this?

    • David, did you ever have more light shed on your very interesting question? If so, please share!


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