Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Ferns fill the forest floor in many places

Located in the very northwest corner of California, the Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a great place to get up close to a giant Redwood.

The trail is a few miles off of Highway 101. The road off the highway to the trailhead is an uphill climb all the way. Once you go under the wooden bridge that marks the beginning of the trail you know you are there.

The trailhead has a parking lit, washrooms and signage. Also near the beginning of the trail is a box with pamphlets that explain the marker posts on the trail. It was empty when I was there. I guess I should have checked to see if these are available online.

The trail is a 1.2 mile loop. It is fairly flat, with a few uphills but all slopes are very gradual. The trail is dirt though, and it really is not very accessible to the disabled.

The grove itself is very remarkable. The redwoods tower over you. As you look up to gauge their height you may find yourself getting dizzy from the experience.

It is quiet in the forest. There were a few other people on the trail, but mostly there was solitude. I did hear the rustle of small wildlife in the bushes from time to time. At one point in the trail a bright blue Steller’s Jay came wildly flapping out of the bush I front of me. It was like I disturbed his afternoon solace.

Throughout the trail I kept thinking that this would be a great place to see a Sasquatch, but even with my hopeful thinking none appeared.

At one point in the hike you will come across a dedication plaque that was originally placed by Lady Bird Johnson when the trail was opened.

There are benches at various points along the way, so if you want to sit down and enjoy the forest, you can do that as well.

I highly recommend this hike if you are in the area. It won’t take you long, the rewards are great.

Photo Gallery


Mount St. Helens at the Johnston Ridge Observatory

The valley between the Johnston Ridge Observatory and the mountain is remarkable
The valley between the Johnston Ridge Observatory and the mountain is remarkable

Today I drove from Vancouver, Washington to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, overlooking Mount St. Helens.

It was overcast, so the chance of seeing the mountain in all its glory was slim, but the opportunity to visit the blast zone and take some amazing photos was still there.

The drive up was great. It was Sunday morning, so the traffic was light. Still, It took two hours to reach the mountain.

The highway that leads all the way to Johnston Ridge is excellent. It approaches Mount St. Helen’s from the west. It includes many spectacular viewpoints and a few serious bridges that span rivers and canyons. There is a lot to look at on the way up the mountain.

The sun was shining when I arrived, and the valley below the mountain could be seen. It was beautiful. However the top one-third of the mountain was mostly obscured by clouds.

Every now and then a hole in the clouds would give a peek at a portion of the summit. As another visitor pointed out, it was like looking through a puzzle piece.

The summit features an interpretive centre with viewing windows, plus outdoor patios with benches, both for viewing the mountain or for interpretive talks given by the National Parks Staff.

Also at the summit, there is a great little walking trail that takes you up higher and away from the building, to even more spectacular viewpoints. The trail loops back to the parking lot, or at one point you can tackle other hiking trails that will lead you to Spirit Lake or even Windy Ridge, where I was two days before.

There were many sights to see other than the mountain. In the valley far, far below elk could be spotted. As well, wildflowers shared the landscape with gnarled stumps and snapped-off tree trunks that remain in the same state as they did following the eruption in 1980.

On the walking trail you will also see a memorial monument that shows the names of all the people that perished in the disaster. The monument is placed so that it faces Mount St. Helens.

After being on the summit for three hours, I decided that I had seen enough and headed down the mountain. It was wonderful to see so much, and to witness how nature is reclaiming this beautiful spot on our earth. It was definitely worth the trip.

Johnston Ridge Photo Gallery