3 stars for a spring or winter drive, 2 for summer tourist season. Probably the ugliest, dirtiest drive anywhere in the redwoods in the summer. In the winter after some rain it's even a good place to stretch your legs with the dog once the trees gets washed off a bit. There are some good trails of this road as well.
Nice drive, frustrating that NPS lists this as a good option for hiking with your dog. Lovely, if you want to be continually choked by dust and exhaust. I respect sensitive environments and the wildlife concerns of having dogs on trails, but when I see dogless idiots mucking off trails trampling everything in their paths in the name of vacation photography, and then think about being relegated to walking a dusty roadside with my dogs...meh. Like I said, nice drive. Not so nice for a walk.
Excellent trail and views of fantastic old growth redwoods. A very good up and back that starts out uphill to get your breathing regulated and of course ends downhill to get in a cool down. I saw 20-25 cars and 40-50 people and it was offseason after the kids went back to school. Some areas were spaced out enough to be able to see the tops of the trees with the sunrays filtering through. The only downfall to this trail is because of the traffic you have to watch your footing with all the exposed roots on the trail. It was a pleasure to see about an 80 year old couple with their mini packs and hiking sticks doing the trail together If you like this hike you will also like the Howland Hills hike that is only about a mile away. Much less crowded and almost as good.
I hike with my dogs in this area. The trail is mostly flat and easy with some gentle rises on trails the width of small roads. There is a herd of Elk in the area and I was pretty close to 2 cows with young calves and what appeared to be yearlings with them. The trail is also shared with horses as there is a horse camp within the park boundary.
I hike this trail regularly as I live in nearby Hiouchi. This trail connects with others that can make this hike a very long one through remote areas. I've hiked a 15 mile route (30 miles round trip from the Hwy 199 trailhead) and it goes further. If you do the 40 mile loop, there are camping areas. However, you can reach the same camping area by other, shorter routes. The first part of the Hiouchi trail which parallels the Smith River is the prettiest part of the hike in my opinion.
While this is just a short loop, my daughter and I were there for a couple hours just taking in the beauty. We saw just a couple other people there, probably because it is just a little off the beaten path. You have to watch for it--when we turned on to Walker Rd. we went way past the trailhead because the marker didn't stand out. It's just in a little way and when you see the restrooms, that's where you start. I felt wonderful being there. It's a very easy stroll for all levels.
We loved it and it was a great hike. Easy terrain and pretty views of river and big trees with water access at several points along the way to cool off or picnic. Took 3 kids along and 2 dogs on leash and we went 7.5 miles round trip but could have gone further if we had started earlier. Various other trails go on from there. Trail head was easy to miss and parking not great. Pedometer said 13640 steps! :)
Since everybody agrees this hike is amazing I am not going to delve on that.
The trail is 5.6 miles and not 4.9 as stated above. I also think it should be considered easy rather than moderate. Maybe the distance is what bumps it up in class but it is very easy to walk and includes man-made steps for the few short steep inclines.
It is family friendly so you will encounter a fair load of people even on weekdays.
Boy Scout Tree is almost at the end of the trail. You will pass over 2 small bridges and walk another 5-10 minutes. There is a very short steep trail to the right. The tree is 20 ft and visible from the main trail.
Scott N. on Boyscout Tree Trail
An amazing trip into the depths of the redwoods