When an old-growth redwood pushing 20 feet in diameter crashes down in Stout Grove, arguably Del Norte County’s most popular and iconic redwood trail, it would seem to be a momentous event.
A visitor to Stout Grove checks out a newly fallen old-growth redwood last weekend that is blocking the loop trail. Del Norte Triplicate / Adam Spencer
Especially if it blocks the grove’s loop walk.
“It was a large tree but in the world of 131,000 acres in the park, it’s nothing remarkable,” said Jeff Bomke, the superintendent of the Redwood Coast Sector of Redwood National and State Parks.
Park managers are always quick to emphasize the importance of the entire redwood forest as an ecosystem over any individual tree, no matter how impressively fat it is.
Still, the fallen redwood in Stout Grove near the loop’s intersection with a side trail to the mouth of Mill Creek is quite a sight.
Since the tree is currently blocking part of the Stout Grove loop trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the park service plans to re-route the trail alongside the fallen redwood without any cutting of the tree, Bomke said.
Crews will use hand-tools to clear some small vegetation to create the new section, since it is past the March 15 noise disturbance deadline for marbled murrelets and the work should be completed before the summer season, Bomke said.
The giant and a few other trees fell sometime last weekend and the recent wet weather was not thought to have played a role, Bomke said.
“They were cool trees because they were right at the juncture of two trails and they had a cathedral effect,” Bomke said.
Gold Bluff Campground closed
Also collapsing over the weekend were part of the bluffs above the road to Gold Bluff Beach Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, closing the campground until the Park Service can clear material from the road.
When the slide was reported Saturday afternoon, there were eight camper vehicles on the other side of the slide, but by early Saturday evening park officials were able to create a path for cars and all of the vehicles and people were evacuated.
The slide material is difficult to clear when heavily saturated, and park officials were waiting until it dried out before working to reopen the access route. At that time park officials will also examine the bluff for stability.
Bomke said that the park should be able to use some of the material to fill low spots on the road during spring grading.