Guide to Stout Grove Trail: The Best Place to Explore the Giants

walking path through very tall redwood trees in Stout Grove

Stout Grove Trail may be a short and simple hike, but it quickly embodies everything that you will grow to love about the Redwoods. As you plan your itinerary for Redwood National Park, this is a must-see stop. In this post, I’ll share what is so magical about this hike and all the details you need to plan your stop here.

Brad and I walked through Stout Grove on our California National Park Road Trip. We had viewed Redwood trees the days prior, but nothing prepared us for the experience of standing in the middle of this 44-acre grove of old-growth redwoods. I described it as feeling more grounded than I’d ever felt as the strength of the towering trees surrounded us.

Stout Grove, also known as Stout Memorial Grove, protects old-growth coastal redwoods. Many of these trees are over 300 feet tall and around 2,000 years old. Only 5% of the old redwood forests remain, lost due to extensive logging. Most of the redwoods you’ll see in California are new-growth trees, replanted in the last century. So being able to walk among the old-growth trees is a special treat.

brown sign for Stout Memorial Grove

Overview of Stout Grove Trail

  • Distance: 0.5- mile loop trail
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Trailhead Access: Either Howland Hill Road or a 0.8-mile hike from Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Day Use Area

Nestled within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the Stout Grove Trail explores the ancient beauty of California’s redwoods. This short 0.5-mile loop trail near Hiouchi, California, is considered easy to hike. The wide trail is dirt, but fairly smooth, so in dry weather a stroller or wheelchair may find it passable. However, be aware that the path has minor elevation changes. While the trail can be walked at a leisurely pace in 30 to 45 minutes, plan extra time to get to the trailhead (see trailhead directions below).

Looking for more information about Redwood National Park? Check out of list of dozens of unique fun facts about Redwood National Park.

Getting To Stout Grove Memorial Trail

There are two ways to get to the Stout Grove Trailhead. And each is unique and interesting.

dirt road through redwood trees
Howland Hill Road

Howland Hill Road to Stout Grove Trailhead

The Stout Grove Trailhead is on Howland Hill Road, an amazingly scenic road in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Even with directions from the park ranger at the Hiouchi Visitor’s Center, we weren’t sure we were on the right road to get to Howland Hill Road because you leave the park and drive through a small residential area before arriving back in the state park. However, stick to the instructions and you’ll get there.

To reach the Stout Grove Trailhead from Crescent City:

  • Drive east on Highway 199, passing the Jedediah Smith State Park Campground entrance.
  • You’ll pass the Hiouchi Visitor’s Center and drive through the small town of Hiouchi.
  • Right outside of town, you’ll cross the Myrtle Creek bridge. Immediately turn right after the bridge onto South Fork Road and cross another bridge over the Smith River.
  • At the upcoming 3-way intersection, keep right on Douglas Park Road. This is where you’ll pass through a small residential area that lines the Smith River.
  • After 1.3 miles, you’ll arrive at the gate to Howland Hill Road. From here it’s about 1 mile to the Stout Grove Trailhead.
Stout Grove Map with red line showing directions

Howland Hill Road is windy, narrow, and mostly unpaved. It is not suitable for large vehicles or towed trailers. Our full-size pickup truck was often a tight fit. If you’re driving a car or van, you’ll be fine. If you have a camper van or truck like ours with a longer wheelbase, it is doable as long as you are patient. However, exercise caution and take your time as the road can be challenging to navigate.

Parking is limited at the trailhead. On a busy day, you may have to pass it to park in a pull-off further down the road and then hike back. We went late in the afternoon on a September weekday and found plenty of parking so think about visiting during slower times if you want to keep your walk short.

If you are driving an RV or towing a trailer then there is an alternate, and perhaps more interesting way, to get to Stout Grove. It’s just a short hike from Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Day Use Area.

map that shows the walking trail from the campground to Stout Grove

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Day Use Area to Stout Grove Trailhead

At the South end of the Jedediah Smith Campground, there is a 0.8-mile trail that will take you to Stout Grove. To find the trail follow the Smith River upstream where during summer months you’ll find a footbridge across the river. Stay to the left after you cross the bridge for an easy walk to Stout Grove.

If you are not camping here, you can park vehicles of any type in the Day Use Picnic Area. From the picnic area follow the river upstream (that would be to the left as you face the river) to the footbridge. The footbridge is removed in the fall so this trail is only available during summer months.

The picnic area is under gorgeous redwoods with a recreational beach along the Smith River. We had a relaxing picnic lunch in this dog-friendly park area. Note: the Day Use area has a user’s fee that you can pay with cash at the station. The fee is waived if you have a current National Parks pass, just be sure to display your pass in your car window.

dirt path through redwood trees with man on trail

Walking the Stout Grove Memorial Trail

“Mouth wide open” best describes the initial impact of stepping into your first grove of old-growth redwood trees. Once you walk a few yards into the grove, you are surrounded by 2,000-year-old trees. As you walk, you will think you have just seen the tallest and biggest tree ever, and then around the next curve… there is one even larger.

A couple of features make hiking Stout Grove Trail a must-see stop on your Redwoods National Park itinerary (other than the astounding trees themselves!)

  • Ease of access to the giant trees. I mean they are right there for you to touch or hug.
  • It’s easy to hike. The trail is a wide and well-packed dirt path making it accessible for most hiking skill sets as well as accessible to those with limited mobility.
  • Limited undergrowth provides clear views. Because the river floods this area, there aren’t many shrubs and other plant growth in Stout Grove. That makes it easier to observe the whole tree and to see deep into the grove.

Trail Features

Brad standing by Redwood in Stout Grove
This is not the biggest tree of the day, but the open space at the beginning of the trail makes it easy to see the incredible height of these redwoods.

This is a loop trail and it doesn’t matter if you follow it clockwise or counter-clockwise. There are a couple of unmarked splits on the trail so to keep from getting off trail just remember that this is a loop and keep moving towards the circle instead of away from the circle if given a choice.

One exception to the keep to the center rule is the Smith River Spur at about 10:00 on the loop. It’s a short walk on down to the river where in the summer you’ll find people cooling off in the water. It’s also a nice place to relax and break up your walk.

Note there is a short slightly steep section at the beginning of the trail if you go clockwise, so choose if you want to tackle that going in or coming out.

redwood tree roots upended
roots of a downed redwood tree

We were most in awe of the downed trees where the enormous size of the redwood tree really hit home. When the tree trunk is lying flat in front of you, you see more of the redwood tree than you do when it’s towering above your head. Even more impressive is the upended root system.

Big Redwood with man standing in front with his arms wide open as if hugging the tree
Stout Tree

At about 9:00 on the loop, you’ll arrive at Stout Tree, believed to be the 9th largest tree in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Stout Tree is about 325 feet tall and at the base, it is over 16 feet wide. A platform surrounds the base to keep people from trampling on the root system.

More Things to Know About Stout Grove Trail


While strolling through Stout Grove, watch out for fascinating residents in the forest like banana slugs. Did you know a banana slug can grow up to 10 inches long? Yeah, maybe a little gross but definitely intriguing. What’s more interesting is that the slugs feed on plants that compete with redwoods for forest space but don’t touch the redwood trees. Talk about a symbiotic relationship!

If you sit quietly among the trees you may discover other wildlife, including deer, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, and a variety of birds, in the forest.

Bears and mountain lions also live in Jedediah Smith Redwoods but tend to stay away from busy places like Stout Grove. Even so, you should stay aware as you walk and keep small children close to you. We stayed in the nearby state park campground and learned that a bear had been wandering through camp two days prior to our arrival.

Picnic Areas and Bathrooms

Definitely pack a picnic! In addition to the day-use area near the campground, you’ll find a variety of good spots to enjoy a snack or lunch.

Vault bathrooms are available next to the parking area for the Stout Grove Trail. You’ll also find bathrooms at the Day Use Area and the Hiouchi Visitor’s Center.


Pets are not allowed on the trail in Stout Grove. Use your best judgment in caring for your pet. Our September visit was on a cool cloudy day so we felt safe leaving Charlie in the truck while we walked Stout trail. However, in the summer temperatures occasionally exceed 80 degrees here which means it will get hot in your vehicle fast making it unsafe for pets to be locked in a vehicle.

national park visitor center with ranger standing on porch
Hiouchi Visitor Center NPS photo

Visitor Facilities

Cell service may be limited while exploring Stout Grove. However, our T-Mobile got 5G through most of the area. Go figure! Before your visit, download offline maps, and familiarize yourself with the trail because cell service is unpredictable when you get into any National Park.

The Hiouchi Visitor Center is located on Highway 199 just a few miles away. You’ll find rangers available for trail advice as well as nature displays. Note, during winter and spring staffed hours are very limited.

What to Pack when Visiting Stout Grove

If you are heading off to walk the Stout Grove Trail here are a few things you’ll need:

  • Water and Snacks – There are no stores once you head down Howland Hill Road. So pack a cooler for the day.
  • Mosquito Repellent – Especially in the summer months, mosquitos can be a problem on warm days.
  • Rain Jacket – Rain is abundant from October through April. And sometimes it really pours so come prepared!
  • Layers – It’s going to be cooler once you enter the shade of the redwood forest so an extra layer will keep you comfortable.
  • Dry Footwear or Boots – when it rains your feet at going to get muddy!

Redwood National and State Parks Trip Planning

We have a detailed Redwood National Park Itinerary that not only includes Stout Grove Trail but a wide variety of other things to do when you visit this amazing park. In this itinerary that we’ve personally tested, you’ll get tips on what to do, where to stay, and things you must not miss as you explore the Redwoods.

The Story of Stout Grove

How did Stout Grove Get its Name?

Stout Grove was donated by Clara Stout in 1929 in memory of her husband, lumber baron Frank D. Stout. When we read this, Brad and I joked that perhaps her donation was to spite her husband’s legacy rather than enhance it since he was in the business of cutting down all these gorgeous trees. So off I went to research the family.

Our theory was far from true. The Stouts were a wealthy family with their home in the Midwest. They indeed made a significant portion of their wealth in the lumber business with interests in Wisconsin and the Pacific. But Frank Stout also highly valued nature, spending his free time hunting and fishing in Wisconsin. Mrs. Stout’s donation was in memory of her husband’s love of the outdoors.

History of Stout Grove

Stout Grove has been part of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park since its creation. Originally donated to the Save the Redwoods League, the Grove soon became part of the newly established Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. In 1968, Redwood National Park was created covering land that surrounded that state park and protecting a larger area of redwoods.

  • 1929: Donation of the 44-acre grove to Save-the-Redwoods League
  • 1930s: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park established
  • 1968: Inclusion of Stout Grove in Redwood National Park

The Save the Redwoods League is still a very active organization, raising funds to support educational programs and protect redwoods.

Other Trails Near Stout Grove Trail

Along Howland Hill Road you’ll find many pull-offs where you can stop and enjoy the forest. Here are a few of the trailheads near Stout Memorial Grove.

Little Bald Hills Trail

Little Bald Hills Trail is a challenging 18.5-mile out and back hike situated close to Stout Grove Trail. It’s more often used by mountain bikes and horses than hikers. It’s a tough hike with a 3,600-foot elevation gain as you move through the redwood forests. There are four backcountry campsites for hikers who want to take on this challenge.

Hiouchi Trail

Just a stone’s throw away from Stout Grove is the picturesque Hiouchi Trail. This easy and gentle trail takes you on a journey along the Smith River. If you hike to Stout Grove from the Jedediah Smith Day Use Area, you are on the Hiouchi Trail for a short time after you cross the footbridge. Continue North of the footbridge to enjoy this trail. The trail also connects with the Hatton Trail, giving you a chance to explore even more of the area’s wonders.

Grove of Titans Trail

The Grove of Titans Trail is a must-visit 1.7 mile out and back walk near Stout Grove. This trail leads you to the famous Grove of Titans, a collection of gigantic old-growth redwoods that will leave you in awe. To reduce the damaging impact of people walking around the base of these giants, in 2022 a raised trail was built. Note this has a lot of stairs so is not ADA-accessible.

Boy Scout Tree Trail (Fern Falls)

Last but not least, the Boy Scout Tree Trail awaits you. This 2.8-mile out and back trail is a moderately challenging hike with a 900-foot elevation gain. During the rainy season, Fern Falls is worth the hike but in the late summer and early fall, there might not be much water flowing. The Boy Scout Tree is harder to find as it sits about 50′ off the trail with no trail marker.

Seasonal Tips and Advice

Best Time to Visit

Stout Grove Trail is open most of the year. Howland Hill Road occasionally is closed for snow clearing. And after a big rain storm, it may be too muddy to easily drive. It’s also closed for a short period every spring for needed repairs after the winter snows. Redwood National Park maintains a current conditions page so you can check the status of the road before you head out.

The best time to visit the Stout Grove Trail is between May and September. Temperatures are moderate all summer, rarely rising above 70 degrees F, providing a comfortable hiking environment.

Spring brings wildflowers which are an added attraction to the vibrant forest. Late summer and early fall mean drier weather and fewer mosquitos to pester you.

From October to April, Redwood National Park receives a copious amount of rain, often 60-80 inches. So definitely bring a raincoat as it’s highly likely to rain at some point during your visit. It also means the trails will be muddy and slippery.

Where to Stay When Visiting Stout Grove

The largest city near Stout Grove is Crescent City. It’s where most people make their home base when visiting Redwood National and State Parks because it is a convenient location with a wide selection of amenities.

Camping Information

There are 4 campgrounds in the State Parks with camping, with Jedediah Smith Campground just minutes away. Remember to reserve your camping spot in advance, especially during the busy summer season.

  • Jedediah Smith Campground
  • Mill Creek Campground
  • Elk Prairie Campground
  • Gold Bluffs Beach Campground

The state park campgrounds do not have sites to accommodate larger campers and RVs, however, there are a variety of campgrounds near Crescent City with full amenities for these bigger guys.

Lodging Information

There are a very limited number of small lodges and rental houses outside of Crescent City. However, Crescent City has a large selection for you to choose from. You’ll find cute beachfront rental houses, simple lodges, and modern branded hotels in this town.

Our Last Thoughts on Stout Grove Trail

By far, this was our favorite hike among the Coastal Redwoods of Northern California. We also loved our hike into Fern Canyon which we’ll share in another post. But it was a completely different experience. Here we felt incredibly close to the old-growth redwood trees.

Stout Grove Trail is a very simple hike which makes it easy to relax and enjoy the gorgeous trees. There are plenty of these giants to impress as you wander through the grove. We hope you’ll enjoy this walk among the redwood trees as much as we did!


  • Ladona Stork

    The Authors: Hey, we are Ladona and Brad, avid campers and hikers. We are crazy about getting outdoors at every possible moment and have decades of experience exploring nature. Our current goal is to visit all 63 US National Parks and just completed #42. WooHoo! Our mission is to help you plan your own adventures and create memories beyond your imagination!