By Fred Obee

Triplicate editor

Hikers reported finding a body about a mile and a half off Howland Hill Road on the Boy Scout Trail late yesterday afternoon.

The discovery prompted police and park officials to close the road at both ends at about 4 p.m..

Were treating the whole road as a crime scene, said State Park Superintendent Rick Sermon.

Sermon said officials had not yet determined if the death was a homicide, but were treating the investigation as if it were.

This investigation will take some time, Sermon said. It might go all night.

He said he did not know if the body was a man or a woman.

Park officials stationed at the road gates near Hiouchi and Crescent City stopped cars and recorded license plate numbers as people caught inside by the road closure left the park.

About 14 cars were inside when the gates were closed, park officials estimated.

Sermon said members of the federal and state parks staff and the Del Norte County Sheriffs Department were investigating.

Howland Hill Road passes through old-growth redwood groves inside Jedediah Smith State Park, and stretches from Crescent Citys edge to Hiouchi on Highway 199.

The road is the access to several trails in the remote, old-growth forest. The dirt-and-gravel road also is a popular route for people touring the redwoods by car.

The Boy Scout Trail, where the body was found, is among the most popular walks in the forest.

Sermon said he did not know exactly how long the road would be closed.