Best time to visit California

Howland Hill Road in California

Ride through towering old-growth redwoods of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Best time: all year round

Howland Hill Road
Howland Hill Road
Howland Hill Road
Howland Hill Road

The Howland Hill Road is a beautiful drive through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park with tall old-growth redwoods in all their cathedral-like glory. Some of the trees are over 90 m (300 ft) tall. The 11-km (6.9-mi) gravel trail running from Crescent City to the paved Douglas Park Road in northern California, also features a river and sports activities accessible during all seasons. Spring is the time to view wildflowers, summer is for swimming, and fishing is available year round. There can be occasional closures of the Howland Hill Road in the winter due to a storm.

The Howland Hill Road is suitable for any standard passenger vehicles; however, it is too narrow for motor homes, buses or RV's. It was initially built in the 19th century to link Crescent City and the Gasquet Toll Road, but today it serves only recreational purposes.

When you get to the junction of Mill Creek and the Smith River, make sure that you stop by Stout Memorial Grove, which could be the most impressive stand of redwoods on the planet. The grove was featured in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Occupying 18 ha (44 acres), it might not be the largest in the world, but it is valued for being an almost mono-culture stand of redwoods. The best time to come is early morning when sunbeams pierce layers of morning fog or late afternoon when foliage is back lit and turns into vibrant hues of golds and greens.

Visitors can prolong their time in this majestic forest by taking a foot hike. Take the Hiouchi Trail or walk along the Mill Creek Trail, these short trails showcase some of the best views in the park.

Practical info

When is the best time of year to drive through Howland Hill Road?

For a scenic ride through Howland Hill Road in California, plan a trip during the spring or summer seasons. The best time to visit is during springtime when wildflowers cover the ground or in summer when it's possible to go swimming in the nearby river. Note that the road may close during winter due to heavy storms. Ensure to check the road status before driving. Show more

Where is the Stout Memorial Grove located and how big is it?

Stout Memorial Grove occupies an area of 44 acres located at the intersection of Mill Creek and the Smith River. It is one of the planet's most impressive stands of redwoods. Although it may not be the largest, its unique mono-culture formation of redwoods makes it an ideal location for visitors to explore and learn about the history and biodiversity of redwood forests. Show more

How long does it take to drive the entire Howland Hill Road?

Howland Hill Road is a narrow and winding gravel trail in northern California that runs 6.9 miles between Crescent City and Douglas Park Road. The length of the drive depends on the driver's speed and stopovers, but it typically takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete the entire trail. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way and make stops to snap photos. Show more

Are there any limitations in terms of vehicles that can drive on Howland Hill Road?

Visitors traveling through Howland Hill Road should note that the narrow and winding roads are suitable for standard passenger vehicles, but not for larger ones like motorhomes, RVs, or buses. The path is designed specifically for recreational purposes. It was initially built in the 19th century to connect Crescent City and Gasquet Toll Road, but today, it serves as a beautiful pathway for tourists to enjoy. Show more

What are the most recommended hiking trails in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park?

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park features several recommended hiking trails for visitors to explore the beauty of its natural surroundings. The Hiouchi trail is a short walk that passes over a footbridge, cuts through the forest, and returns to the starting point. The Mill Creek trail features scenic viewpoints of the park. The park also offers ranger-led nature walks and interpretive talks for visitors who would like to learn more about the park's diverse ecosystems and history. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin