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Fall is a beautiful time to put on a few layers and explore Humboldt County. One must-see hike is the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Walk Trail loop, which lies just 4 miles north of Orick. To get there heading north, take the first right turn outside of town onto Bald Hills Road. Continue for 2.6 miles. Be ready for a steep and bumpy ride until you see a trailhead sign and small parking lot on your right.

click to enlarge MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson

Once you're parked, head onto the trail. The Lady Bird Johnson Grove loop begins with a bridge that crosses over Bald Hills Road. The bridge is the first worthy stop along the trail and is very popular in the local photography scene. Take a second to snap some shots.

Just past the bridge is a trailhead kiosk with pamphlets to take and return (or keep for a $1 donation). Along the trail are numbered markers that match with descriptions in the pamphlet. The pamphlets also provide some historical and ecological information on the grove for a self-guided tour. A little more than half a mile into the hike you'll find the site that First Lady "Lady Bird" Claudia Johnson visited in 1968 for the dedication of Redwood National Park. In 1969, Richard Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson officially named the grove after the First Lady to honor her for her environmental advocacy.

The giant redwoods found along the trail vary in size, shape and character. Some are scarred and hollow due to wildfires. Others appear to have split themselves into two or three different trees; you can see multiple giants sprouting from the same trunk. Feel free to walk into and explore the hollowed, charred trees. Along the path are some smaller unofficial trails that lead into the forest and to more fascinating giants. They're easy to follow back to the main trail if you keep track of direction.

This nature walk can be as long or as quick as you make it and requires only comfortable clothes and shoes, at minimum. Unfortunately, for this hike you'll have to leave the pup home. The trail is a part of Redwood National Park and unless you have a service dog, pets are only "allowed in developed campgrounds, on beaches, at picnic areas and roads," according to the National Park Service.

The drive up the coast to the trail alone will take your breath away but upon visiting Lady Bird Johnson Grove, you will understand why it was made a historic site. Walking among these old growth giants is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Megan Bender

Megan Bender

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