AAA Editor Notes
Avenue of the Giants parallels US 101 between Phillipsville and Pepperwood. Winding along the course of the Eel River, this 31-mile section of pre-freeway US 101 passes through a wilderness that is awe-inspiring in its natural majesty. While the surrounding hills are lush with oak, maple and madrone trees, it is the magnificent redwoods along this route that tower above everything.
The two-lane highway has plenty of turnouts where you can park, get out, take photos and in general be awed by the sheer enormity of these trees. A shadowed solitude prevails in the redwood groves. Exuberant growths of ferns (one of the few plants that thrive in the damp, low-light conditions) carpet the ground beneath them. Signed trailheads for hikes (most of them short and level) are at the parking areas.
Numerous hiking trails traverse the Rockefeller Forest Redwood Grove. At Founders Grove is the Founders Tree, a redwood 346 feet tall and almost 13 feet in diameter at its base. There are a number of large redwoods in this grove, including a few fallen trees—you'll really get a sense of just how big they are when you encounter one lying on the ground. An oddity is the Eternal Tree, which survives despite being hit by lightning, flooded and cut by an ax; a fifth-generation redwood grows next to it.
Note: Bring food and water if you plan on spending the day hiking.