Boy Scout Tree Trail

Boy Scout Tree Trail

Redwood National Park

Redwood: Boy Scout Tree Map Thumbnail
Type: Out-and-back day hike
Distance: 5.6 miles (9.0 km)
Cumulative Elevation Gain/Loss: 1386 feet (423 m)
Date Visited: July 23, 2017
Boy Scout Tree Trail Map (KTNP)

We were feeling a bit sad on our last full day in Redwood National and State Parks. But we were going to go out with a bang. Our main activity for the day was Boy Scout Tree Trail, a 5.6 mile out-and-back hike located in Jedediah Smith State Park.

The trail is gorgeous, and features many old growth redwood trees. A small waterfall, called Fern Falls, makes the turnaround point a scenic lunch spot. Near the end of the trail is Boy Scout Tree – two redwoods that have grown together, resembling the Boy Scout salute.

Howland Hill Road

Howland Hill Road leads to Boy Scout Tree Trail. The unpaved road bisects Jedediah Smith State Park and is a great scenic drive. Along the road are trailheads for Boy Scout Tree, Mill Creek, Nickerson Ranch, and Stout Grove trails. The narrow, picturesque road winds around enormous redwood trees. It was prettier and more well-maintained than we expected. Cars pulled to the side of the busy road so visitors could take photos.

After a couple miles on Howland Hill Road, we stopped at a small parking lot for the trail. There are no restrooms at the trailhead, so plan ahead. The parking lot can fill up quickly, as this is a popular hike. But when we arrived at noon, there were still spots available. We grabbed our packs and lunch, and set off into the woods.

Redwood: Howland Hill Road
Large redwoods line Howland Hill Road
Redwood: Boy Scout Tree Trail
Boy Scout Tree trailhead

Boy Scout Tree

Our hike took us through a beautiful redwood forest, with sunlight occasionally streaming in through the dense trees. The trail is easy to moderate, with some rolling hills and exposed roots. We crossed a bridge over a small trickling creek and stopped to take a selfie.

We crossed several other bridges, went under overhanging trees, and climbed stairs built into the trail. Even after being in the park for a week, we marveled at the size of the redwoods – they were some of the biggest we’d seen. Along the trail we waved to some of our old friends, the banana slugs.

Redwood: Bridge on Boy Scout Tree Trail
A bridge near the beginning of Boy Scout Tree Trail
Redwood: Large Trees on Boy Scout Tree Trail
Large redwoods along the trail
Redwood: Redwood Forest on Boy Scout Tree Trail
Redwood forest

Ahead, we spot a sign that reads “B.S. Tree.” It’s either the Boy Scout tree, or someone is playing a joke on us. The sign points to the right, up a steep, partly-eroded trail. About 100 feet into the trail, we reach Boy Scout tree, which has a small wooden label attached. Essentially it’s two gigantic trees fused together at the bottom. Its height made it difficult to photograph!

Redwood: Sign to Boy Scout Tree
This sign confused us initially, but it leads to Boy Scout Tree
Redwood: Boy Scout Tree
Boy Scout Tree is huge, and has a hard-to-read label attached to its trunk
Redwood: Looking up at Boy Scout Tree
Looking up at Boy Scout Tree. The redwoods growing together mimic the Boy Scout salute

Fern Falls

After spending a few minutes at Boy Scout Tree, we returned to the main trail and continued hiking. Ten minutes later, we arrived at Fern Falls. The waterfall is nice, but it was the wrong time of the day to photograph it as the sun was shining directly on it. Fallen trees partially blocked our view of the falls.

Redwood: Fern Falls on Boy Scout Tree Trail
Fern Falls

Nearby was a log with a view of the falls, which doubled as a picnic bench, so we relaxed and ate some lunch. Groups of hikers came and left at a steady rate, exploring the waterfall, pools, and streams. After finishing my lunch, I wanted to explore. To my surprise, I saw some small fish swimming in the pools near the falls.

As I watched the fish swim around, my eye caught another creature – a salamander. There were actually a couple of them, but they were hard to see since they blended in so well. I watched them for awhile, and called Kristin over to take a look too. These were juvenile salamanders, who spend their life in the water. What exact species, I wasn’t sure, but there are eight different species of newts and salamanders in the area according to the park website.

Redwood: Small Fish in Pool at Fern Falls
A small fish in a pool created by Fern Falls
Redwood: Salamander Near Fern Falls
A salamander near Fern Falls

After some more exploring, we headed back toward the trailhead. On the way, we saw someone pushing a stroller on the trail. That seems like a losing proposition with the roots and stairs, but to each their own.

Boy Scout Tree Trail is a well-maintained trail with large redwood trees. The falls at the end were a bit disappointing, though the fish and salamanders kind of made up for it. With that, our Redwood adventure was over, and our next stop would be Crater Lake National Park.

Boy Scout Tree Trail

Redwood: Boy Scout Tree Map Thumbnail
Boy Scout Tree Trail Map (1:20,000)

Dates: July 23, 2017
Out-and-back day hike
Total Distance:
5.6 miles (9.0 km) round trip
Cumulative Elevation Gain/Loss:
1386 feet (423 m)
Time: 3 hours hiking, which includes lunch and photo breaks
Trail Markings: Sign pointing to Boy Scout Tree
Difficulty: Moderate
Crowds: We saw a lot of groups
Water: Fern Falls, streams
Highlights: Large redwood trees, wildlife, waterfall, streams
Directions to Boy Scout Tree Trailhead: Google Maps Directions

Trail Directions

  • Mile 0.0 – Start the trail from the parking lot
  • Mile 2.4 – A sign points to a short trail on the right. Walk about 300 feet to see Boy Scout Tree. Then go back to the main trail.
  • Mile 2.9 – You’ve arrived at Fern Falls. A social trail appears to continue beyond the falls. Explore, eat lunch, just be you. Then go back the way you came.
  • Mile 5.6 – Back at the parking lot.



Elevation Graph

Interactive Map

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