Elevated boardwalk opens amid giant redwoods

Sep. 27—Visitors can now walk through the Grove of Titans without damaging the sensitive roots of the massive redwood trees.

Officials announced this month the completion of a 1,300-foot-long elevated boardwalk through the Grove of Titans at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Northern California.

Construction began in November 2019 as part of a multi-year, $3.5 million project organized and carried out by California State Parks, Save the Redwoods League, Redwood Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service.

The project provides environmentally sensitive access to the Grove of Titans and adjacent forest. Researchers have known about the grove since 1998, but they kept its location a secret. Adventure enthusiasts eventually found the grove and posted its GPS coordinates online in 2011.

Thousands of visitors have been wending their way through the grove on unofficial paths — leading to considerable damage over time, officials said.

Although giant redwoods may seem indestructible, they have shallow, fragile root systems. People walking and climbing on the trees have created exposed tree roots and compacted soil. The sensitive understory of ferns, fungi and other organisms has been trampled, according to the Save the Redwoods League.

The three-mile Mill Creek Trail is being fully restored and realigned. A spur trail off Mill Creek Trail leads to the Grove of Titans.

For now, the first mile of the Mill Creek Trail and the 1,300-foot-long boardwalk are finished and open to the public, creating an out-and-back trail.

"We have some exciting news. We have the first mile of trail complete and we want to welcome the public to come on out and see this amazing place," said Brett Silver, deputy district superintendent of the California State Parks North Coast Redwoods District.

The other two miles of the Mill Creek Trail remain under construction and are closed to the public. The trail will eventually stretch from the boardwalk to the Smith River. Officials expect the full trail will be finished by early summer in 2022.

For the safety of park visitors and workers, the Mill Creek Trail from the Grove of Titans boardwalk to the Smith River will be fenced off and closed during construction. Any park visitors in violation of the posted closure will be subject to a citation.

Construction on the project began in November 2019 but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, road closures, wildfire and labor shortages, officials said.

For more information about the Grove of Titans project visit www.savetheredwoods.org/project/grove-of-titans/.

The Mill Creek Trail is located along Howland Hill Road, which branches off of Highway 199 between the towns of Gasquet and Crescent City, California.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.