You can now visit the secluded Grove of Titans in the Redwood National and State Parks


Before Instagram and geotagging threatened its very existence, a unique thicket of redwood trees nestled within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park​​ flourished for over a thousand years near the tip of Northern California. 

Dubbed the Grove of Titans for its boscage of old-growth redwoods, thought to be around 1,500 years old, the area was threatened by trampling tourists who sought out the hidden hike over the last decade. Visitors began carving their own paths through the fern shrubs, disturbed the habitat and leaving traces behind; because it was an undeveloped environment, the lack of access to bathrooms created issues with human waste.

The concealed enclave in the Redwood National and State Parks was originally part of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation ancestral territory, before becoming somewhat of a local’s secret. The trailhead is off Howland Hill Road, which is around 25 minutes from downtown Crescent City. 

“The word got out about these trees,” said Scott Larson, executive director of the Redwood Parks Conservancy. “It was something that was fairly hidden and few knew where it was. With vast improvements in technology, things go viral quickly and it’s our nature as humans to seek out something that’s new.”

The new boardwalk curving around a redwood tree in the Grove of Titans.

Courtesy of Max Forster

The enhanced interest in the grove and subsequent damage from its discovery triggered a group effort to protect the area and improve its accessibility.

Starting this week, access to the secluded sequoias is available, following the installation of a new 1,300-foot-long boardwalk that weaves through the trees. The Grove of Titans is accessible from the freshly realigned Mill Creek Trail. 

The project began about five years ago, funded and completed through a collaboration from the California State Parks, Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Nation, Save the Redwoods League, Redwood Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service.

The total cost for the entirety of the project — which included improvements to the Mill Creek Trail, installing the Grove of Titans boardwalk and new visitor amenities such as ADA-accessible parking and restrooms — was approximately $4 million.

Trail crews spent a collective 23,000 hours to realign the 3-mile Mill Creek Trail and build the elevated walkway. And in an effort to minimize construction impact, they carried the 128 tons of construction materials by hand to the site.

Crews hand-carried close to 128 tons of construction materials and tools to the Grove of Titans.

Crews hand-carried close to 128 tons of construction materials and tools to the Grove of Titans.

Courtesy of Max Forster

“All of the supplies were walked up, including the decks, beams and the signage,” said Larson. “It was a huge effort to put together and it was done in an incredibly sensitive way. There are turns and twists through the redwoods and it goes up and over rocks.”

Larson praised the preservation of the grove, while also championing inclusivity for all those who can now safely visit. 

“It’s a truly magical moment to walk through a 1,500-year-old grove of true titans,” he said. “It’s going to be something that is moving. When you walk through this path, even if you’re a child, you’re going to remember it.”


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