Tucked away from the drive-through limelight of Highway 199, Stout Memorial Grove is out of sight and out of mind for many, if not most, Redwood-bound visitors. Those who do make the side trip down Howland Hill Road to see Stout Grove's magnificent coast redwoods are well rewarded. Stout Grove is arguably the most scenic of the coast redwood groves in Jedidiah Smith Redwood State Park, and the location on the other side of the Smith River from the highway keeps the visitor count down.
Located on a broad flat along the banks of the Smith River, Stout Grove is unique in that only coast redwoods are growing here; there are no other tree species in the cove of the grove. With an open and lush fern understory, light is able to penetrate through the trees with a majestic, cathedral-like beauty. Stout Tree, the alpha* tree in the grove, is impressive in both its size and deeply grooved, rippled bark. Being removed from the highway, the sounds of traffic are dampened and less intrusive here.
The Stout Grove Trail drops down to the flat from the parking area, forming a loop through the ancient trees. Two trails split off from the main loop. Traveling in a counter-clockwise direction around the loop, the first junction is with the River Trail, which travels east and parallel to the Smith River for a half-mile before terminating at a parking pullout on Howland Hill Road, which is also Little Bald Hills Trailhead. The second junction connects with the Hiouchi and Mill Creek Trails, providing access to a summer footbridge that crosses the Smith River and connects to Jedidiah Smith Campground.
* At 16 feet in diameter at its base and 340 feet tall, the Stout Tree is one of the most massive trees of the coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) species.