When we entered the park driveway this lovely sign greeted us.
WARNING. You are entering bear country. Bears are active day and night. Proper food storage required by state law. Protect your property and yourself.
Immediately the girls begged for the black container in the back of the trailer. The one purchased in the middle of grizzly country. I reassured them that the bears here were probably black bears. Bella promptly remarked, “I love black bears.” Besides, I told them, they probably just want to eat a sandwich, not us. Crisis averted,we paid the $8.00 parking fee and we drove into the park.
The Smith River runs through the park. Naturally my three kids were drawn to the water. We were dismayed to see the depth of this river. Normally, it’s full and beautiful. Today it was shallow, slow and rocks were everywhere. It was a somber reminder of the drought that devastates much of Northern California.
After four years of exploring and home schooling the kids are good at finding little creatures for me. Luckily, this time it wasn’t a snake or a spider. Just an adorable little frog that Bella had to show me. The kids are learning — I was chastised for not having our hand-dandy nature handbook with us!
The reason we came to this park was not to skip rocks or find frogs. We came to the park to see the redwoods. These trees amaze us. Every time. I love how some of them were alive when Jesus walked the earth. Or as the boy said, “When Rome was in power.” I can’t plan these moments if I try!
The park has two trails: The Nature Loop Trail and the River Beach Trail. We started the hike at the end of the trail and did not see the sign banning the dog. OOPS!
We saw ferns. We saw moss. We saw lichen. We saw leaves. We saw a mushroom. The boy picked it out. Sometimes he surprises me.
We stopped at so many places. The girls kept wanting their pictures taken. This particular tree had at some point been burnt out by lightning. My entire family could fit inside the shell of it! This was some big tree!
Here lies a mighty giant. We stood in awe of the sheer height and width of this tree. The sign indicated that this particular tree had become a den to various creatures. Even in it’s final resting place this mighty tree was providing shelter to the inhabitants of the forest.
At the top of a tree stump (a mighty tall stump) the kids posed for a picture. All on their own. This momma happily snapped away! (I’m going to miss these moments!)
Suddenly along the path was another stump. Bella proudly proclaimed that she was the Queen of the Redwoods and this was her throne. When I offered Gabby the opportunity to have a picture atop the throne her sister dramatically proclaimed, “No. Only I am the Queen.” Well then…
What to do when you come across a fallen tree? Climb on it, of course. This made Gabby yell at the boy. “Make him get down!”, she proclaimed. AS IF we can make him do any such thing. But when daddy climbed on the tree, the panic set in. I had to make daddy get down just so she didn’t hurt my ears!
Crisis averted we move along. The path came to an end. But not before we had one last big giant to admire…
The trees were just so big! Bella made daddy help her measure. Even then, it was bigger than they both could measure!
About the Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is located nine miles east of Crescent City, California off Highway 199. Established in 1929, the park contains an area of old growth redwood trees. It has approximately 20 miles of hiking nature trails winding through the trees and along the Smith River.
Park Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=413
Availability: Open Year Round
Amenities: Camping, hiking, picnicking, visitor center and store.