It’s rare that you can have a family-friendly hike in a National Park that is quiet and without crowds, but the Tall Trees Grove trail in Redwood National Park is one such rare find. The Tall Trees Grove, which is controlled by the number of permits issued by the park rangers each day, is a perfect way to spend a few hours. Not only does it include an isolated stand of tall redwood trees, it also has access to a peaceful riverfront. You can also use this trail as a base for backcountry camping in the vast wilderness.
We believe that Redwood National Park is a beautiful and diverse part to visit, and you won’t be disappointed if you add the Tall Trees Trail to your itinerary while inside the park!
TALL TREES GROVE PERMIT
We need to start off by letting you know that the experiencing the Tall Trees Grove requires a bit of planning. The access road to the trailhead is behind a locked gate.
The code changes weekly and is only give out to those who get a permit ahead of time. You also cannot plan on “sneaking” behind someone as they go through, as the park rangers ask everyone who enters the gate to lock it behind them, even if there is a car waiting to come through.
In addition, if you come here without a permit, it will cost you about 30 minutes, as the drive to get to the gate isn’t short!
The main reason for the permit is to prevent overcrowding in the small parking lot at the end of the narrow access road.
A bit about the permit for the Tall Trees Grove:
- There are 50 permits given out per day. While this may seem like a small number, demand for these permits is not that high and you should be able to get one if you attempt to get one before noon. If it’s a weekend or holiday, we recommend getting your permit by 10 am just to be safe.
- There is one permit required per car.
- Permits are given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Permits can be obtained from any of the visitor centers in Redwoods National Park. They open at 9 am daily.
- The nearest visitor center is the Kuchel Visitor Center, just west of Orick, CA.
The Tall Trees Grove is open year-round.
PARKING AND TRAILHEAD OF THE TALL TREES GROVE
Map of the Tall Trees Grove parking area, courtesy of the National Park Service
The Tall Trees Grove is not the easiest trail to get to. From Redwood Highway (Highway 101), turn onto Bald Hills Road. This is the same access road that is used for the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. After entering Bald Hills Road, continue for 6.9 miles until you get to the Tall Trees Access Road on the right side. Enter the code and pass through the gate (you will have to get out of your car to do so). Be sure to lock the gate behind you!
Head down the Tall Trees Access Road (a narrow dirt road) to the end, which is about six miles.
- Directions from the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center to the Tall Trees Trailhead (this will take about 45 minutes). Be prepared for slow travel and take your time!
We should also note that the Bald Hills Road is narrow and shared with logging trucks as well as bicyclists. You’ll have to keep your wits about you as you drive, as there were several times we were surprised by both while traveling to our hike.
The parking lot is small, but there should be spots available to you when you arrive due to the permitting limits.
There are pit toilets in the parking area. Since this part of the park is remote, they aren’t cleaned out frequently. When we were there, they were clean enough to use, but several people stayed away from them due to the strong smell as you approach the bathrooms!
THE HIKE TO THE TALL TREES GROVE
Map of the Tall Trees Grove Trail, courtesy of the National Park Service
The hike starts on the Tall Trees Trail and enters through a grove of hardwood trees and starts to head downhill almost immediately.
The descent is gradual but noticeable as it winds its way through the forest. The trail is dirt, but we never had an issue keeping our footing as we descended nearly 800 feet over 1.2 miles. Whenever it would have been steep, there are small sets of switchbacks which help out a ton.
We found it really incredible how quiet it was here. Since not many people are given access to the trail, the trail is inherently quiet. But for some reason, most people whisper when hiking in these forests. We loved that!
At the 1.3 mile point the trail comes up on a fork, which is the start and finish of the Tall Trees Grove. Since this part of the trail is completely flat, there really isn’t any recommended direction of travel.
The Tall Trees Grove is a collection of Redwoods, with many standing well over 300 feet tall.
The loop around the grove is about 0.8 miles before you reach the beginning of the fork. At this point, you can head back up the trail. However, we recommend heading to nearby Redwood Creek, which is only a few feet southwest of the fork.
Redwood Creek starts about 55 miles to the southeast and empties into the Pacific Ocean near Orick. The creek is accessible via a flat, rock riverbed (when the waters are not too high). When we were visiting you could see people crossing the creek by walking through the water, which was quite shallow. Across the creek are numerous trails and 44 Camp, a backcountry campground with only 4 campsites. Permits can be obtained from the Kuchel Visitor Center.
The Redwood Creek shore was a great area for us to sit and relax for a bit prior to heading back up the trail.
The hike back is all uphill. While this is not the steepest trail we’ve been on, it was definitely one of the more intense hiking experiences that we had in Redwood National Park, as most of the trails have little to no elevation gain.
The entire hike, including taking a few small breaks (and an extended break at Redwood Creek) took us just about two hours. The entire event (including driving in and out) takes about 3.5 to 4 hours and the hike is about 3.3 miles total.
One thing to be aware of is that bugs can be a bit of an issue on this trail. You might want to bring bug spray with you to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes!
THINGS TO DO NEAR THE TALL TREES GROVE TRAIL
Redwoods National and State Parks are vast and quite spread out. Even if you are here for a few days, you really need to plan out your time here and make the most of every place you stop. As mentioned earlier, driving to the Tall Trees Grove is quite a commitment and it’s a good idea to couple this hike with several other stops. Here are the nearby stops that we recommend:
- Close to highway 101 (on Bald Hills Road) is the incredible Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail. This is a mostly flat 1.3-mile loop that involves hiking among huge trees. This trail really is a must-do, but we recommend hiking early in the morning before it gets too crowded. We actually liked the trees we saw on this trail more than the Tall Trees Grove, but if you are here when it is busy then you should opt to go on the Tall Trees Grove trail instead for some peace.
- Just before the Tall Trees Grove access road, the Redwood Creek Overlook is worth a quick stop. There is a picnic area here as well as a good spot to see the landscape and grab a couple photos.
- An alternate way of getting to the Tall Trees Grove is by taking the Dolason Prairie Trail. This trail is not widely traveled, climbs 2,250 feet and is nearly 10 miles in length. This trail is not for the faint of heart, so be prepared if you plan on attempting it!
FURTHER INFORMATION ON REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK AND THE SURROUNDING AREA FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- There are many things to do in Northern California and the California Coast. Be sure to check out our blog on driving the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and our other blogs on the state of California.
- We’ve created many National Park Posters, including our WPA Style poster from Redwood National Park.
- Finally, after you come back from your trip, check out how we can create a vintage style travel poster from a photo that you send to us! This unique memory will bring you back to the place you were when enjoying your vacation and is the perfect gift for someone who loves to travel.