Oregon Coast and Redwoods
Oregon Coast and Redwoods
The longest day trip that we offer here is also the most diverse with a variety of incredibly beautiful things to see and experience. This day trip to see the amazing Oregon coast, the nearby redwoods, and various exquisite rivers would ideally be done over a few days. If you are in town for only limited time, this trip can successfully be done in one long day.
If you do choose to complete the adventure in one day, your day will preferably start early so you have as much time to enjoy the trip as possible. Leave Ashland on I-5 towards Medford and continue on I-5 until Grants Pass, where you will take exit 55. From this exit you will go south on US-199, also known as the Redwood Highway. Be prepared for a gorgeous, winding, mountainous drive down to the coast.
Along the drive down to the coast, there will be a number of marked opportunities to stop, get out of the car and go for a hike or have a picnic along the Smith River. Once you see the green-blue color of the river, you’ll surely want to see it up close and perhaps take a swim in its chilly waters.
For a specific location to take a hike, after passing through the small town of Hiouchi, you’ll come to where US-199 and CA-197 split. Stay on US-199 and pull over and park just after passing the bridge that passes over the Smith River. On the side of the road heading back toward Hiouchi you’ll find a terrific trail that passes through the redwood forest and along the Smith River.
Continuing along US-199, drive to Howland Hill Road where you will find yourself in another time in the ancient redwood forests of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Some of the largest trees in the world are found in this forest, and you will believe it when you see some of these behemoths.
Just before arriving at US-101, take a left on Elk Valley Rd. Follow Elk Valley Rd. for about 3.5 miles and then take a left on Howland Hill Road. This road will take you into the state park.
One of the most popular trails along Howland Hill Road is the Boy Scout Tree Trail. The trailhead is marked and it’s likely you’ll see other cars parked near the trail. The trail is 2.8 miles one way, so leave yourself time if you want to do the entire hike. Near the end of the trail is an unmarked but well-worn trail that leads up to the double redwood known as the Boy Scout Tree. It’s an awe-inspiring piece of nature well-worth viewing. The trail ends only about 10 to 15 minutes past the Boy Scout Tree at a waterfall.
After visiting Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, your journey will continue north up Highway 101. Backtrack on Howland Hill Rd. and Elk Valley Rd. the same way you came in. However, do not follow Elk Valley Rd. all the way back to US-199. Shortly before US-199, take a left on Elk Valley Cross Rd. Stay on that road for about .6 miles and then take a right onto US-101 north.
The rest of your journey will follow US-101 north into Oregon, over the Winchuck and Chetco Rivers, past Brookings and into the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This scenic drive starts 4 miles north of Brookings and includes 12 miles of rocky and rugged coastline with a number of locations to pull off the road for outstanding views.
Whale watching is a popular activity here during the fall and spring migrations, typically during the last week(s) of December and March. Both Harris Beach State Park and Cape Farrelo are good spots to whale watch, with the latter being the best option. Binoculars are recommended and helpful. Gray whales and humpback whales are the most widely seen whales in the area.
After catching the vistas of the scenic corridor, your day full of rivers, redwoods and rugged coastline is nearly complete, as it’s now time to turn back and head towards Ashland. Or if you have some time, stay a while longer and further explore and enjoy one of the most beautiful areas on the planet.
Tags: Oregon redwoods, Oregon redwoods highway, Oregon redwoods map, Oregon redwoods directions, Oregon coast, Southern Oregon coast, Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Smith River, Chetco River, Winchuck River, Brookings Oregon, Day Trip from Ashland Oregon, Harris Beach State Park, Cape Farrelo, Whale watching in southern Oregon