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New sights along Avenue of the Giants.

Stop at the visitor center ... or to marvel at fallen giants

AN IMPRESSION OF time-flouting permanence is one of the most appealing attributes of the colossal redwoods lining Avenue of the Giants in northern California's Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Recently, though, both man and nature have wrought changes on the Avenue that warrant a fresh look from even veteran boulevardiers.

California's redwood forests are particularly attractive at this time of year, before the crowds of summer arrive. Stremside dogwoods display delicate white blossoms, while oxalis and trillium bloom on the forest floor.

PAY HOMAGE TO A FALLEN GIANT

Until last spring, the Dyerville Giant in Founders Grove was one of the tallest known trees in the world, last measured at 362 feet while it was still growing. Impressive also in girth and other dimensions, it was crowned the "champion coastal redwood" by the American Forestry Association. But in March of 1991, heavy rains and high winds set into slow motion a domino effect that toppled the Dyerville Giant and two other large redwoods.

Visitors have thronged to Founders Grove in record numbers to see the tree in repose. "The Dyerville Giant looked big when it was standing, but it looks huge on the ground," says park superintendent Donald Hoyle, whose staff has been hard at work rerouting the grove's nature trail around it.

Having the entire length of the tree accessible does impart a more tangible sense of its immensity; visitors clambering over its trunk look like Lilliputians inspecting a bound Gulliver.

The Dyerville Giant is about halfway around the nature trail loop (less than 1/2 mile in all). To get to the trailhead parking lot from Avenue of the Giants, drive east about 200 yards on the Dyerville Loop Road.

LEARNING MORE ABOUT AVENUE OF THE GIANTS

Thanks to the efforts of the nonprofit Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association, it's easier now to learn more than meets the eye about the awesome sights along Avenue of the Giants.

New exhibits on the area's natural and human history have been added as part of the recent renovation of the association's modest but informative visitor center. One diorama is populated by a bobcat, mountain lion, black bear, red-tailed hawk, and other forest denizens; king salmon, steelhead trout, and a Humboldt sucker seem to swim through an underwater view of the Eel River, which parallels the Avenue. Logger californicus is represented by a display of hobnailed boots, a broadax, and a cant hook.

Children can feel pelts from a raccoon, river otter, ringtail cat, and gray fox, or examine animal skulls and plants through a microscope. For sheer drama, ask to see the video documenting the Eel River flood of 1964. It includes remarkable footage of a bridge being torn apart by the raging floodwaters.

Founders Grove and the visitor center are two of the nine stops on a new self-guided auto tour of the Avenue, put together by the association and the state parks department. You'll find tour brochures in boxes at each end of the Avenue. Look for signs placed about 200 feet before points of interest described in the brochure.

The brochure provides interpretive information formerly lacking along the route, and it points out short trails through the redwoods that let you stretch your legs. The 2.8-mile loop through Drury and Chaney groves is particularly worthwhile for those who have 1-1/2 hours to spare.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California
Author:Mahoney, David
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1992
Words:567
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