Avenue of the Giants [If You Go]
by Mark Sedenquist
The Avenue of the Giants is a thirty-two mile scenic byway that parallels US-101 about thirty-five miles south of Eureka, California. The road was originally built as a stagecoach and wagon road in the 1880s and roughly follows the South Fork of the Eel River from the small town of Pepperwood in the north to Phillipsville in the south. The road meanders through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, a redwood preserve of nearly 52,000 acres that includes over 17,000 acres of "old growth" (never been logged) coast redwood trees. Some of the largest coast redwoods ever found can be seen within short walks from the convenient parking areas located along this drive.
While our exploration of this area was limited to a couple of hours, it would be easy to spend all day strolling through these magnificent groves. There are a number of exits and on ramps that connect the Avenue of the Giants with US-101, making it easy to travel any section of the route. The speed limit on the scenic byway is 45 mph, and if one were to drive the distance without stopping, it would only add about thirty minutes to cover the same distance on the nearby freeway. This would definitely be better than missing it altogether, but we recommend allowing at least two or three hours, so you can spend some time soaking up the enchanting aura of the trees. The trees we looked at are 400 to 600 years old, but there are a number of giants that are over 2,000 years old and several are over 300 feet tall.
The quiet seems audible when you walk
in an "old growth" redwood forest. If you are
lucky, you may spy one of the fantastic yellow-colored Banana
slugs slowing transforming the forest litter into compost,
or see examples of the awesome variety of mushrooms and fungi
that live on the trees, logs, and rocks. This is also the
land of Bigfoot - a number of sightings of this mythical beast
have been reported at locations along the drive.
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November 6, 2005