You don't have to be Irish to appreciate the lush greenery of the redwood country after Southern Oregonís long, gray winter.
Some years, spring in the Rogue Valley is well entrenched by mid-March, but this is definitely not one of them. If you want real spring green, load up the car, drive to the coast and take a walk among the big trees and chest-high ferns of Northern Californiaís redwood coast.
Consider a real hiking trail instead of the manicured little pull outs along Highway 199. A 2.5-mile trail will deliver you to what is likely to be the biggest tree you will ever see.
The Boy Scout Tree is a giant among giants ó at 20 feet in diameter itís big enough to fill your living room. On many days youíll have the trail all to yourself, and youíll be far away from the road noise, crowds and outhouses that mar the big-tree groves along Highway 199.
The trail winds through low, fern-covered hills dotted with spectacular redwoods and the occasional western hemlock. Patches of oxalis carpet some sections of the trail in shamrocks. Evergreen huckleberry thrives where enough light filters through the trees. Trilliums show their sparkling white flowers.
The Boy Scout Tree lies within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, east of Crescent City. To get there, take Highway 199 west from Grants Pass for about 75 miles. Turn left at the sign for the South Fork Road and the Stout Grove.
Follow the signs to the Stout Grove for about three miles and when you get there, keep going. Continue along Howland Hill Road for 2.2 miles to parking for the Boy Scout Tree trail.
The trail climbs about 250 feet through ferns and big trees, then crosses Jordan Creek and follows the stream as it begins to drop toward the ocean. A side trail leads to the Boy Scout Tree, named by a Del Norte County sheriff (and Scout leader) who discovered it.
Set on a hillside, the Boy Scout Tree provides a different perspective of the big trees that surround it. When you stand 75 feet above trees that are 10 feet across at eye level, you get a different sense of their magnitude. You can also look across the hill at the big trees without craning your neck.
You can turn around after taking in the Boy Scout Tree or continue another .5 miles to Fern Falls, a modest 20-foot fan of water that should be quite lovely in this rainy spring. The trail follows right along the creek in this stretch, and the redwoods give way to water loving trees such as alder, maple and Sitka spruce.
The falls makes a perfect spot for lunch or a snack before retracing your steps.
For a map and trail description, see William Sullivanís "100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast and Coast Range."