the Grove Women's Federation , known as the Grove of Women by the locals who live in the area, was founded in the early 1930s by members of the clubs of the Women's Federation of California. Located on the banks of the South Fork of the Eel River, it is literally in the center of the Redwood Empire. It is less than a mile south of the world famous Founder & # 39; s Tree on the old 101 freeway, now called the Avenue of the Giants, and approximately six miles north of the picturesque city of Myers Flat, where the author lived. when I was little.
The entrance to the park is in a sharp curve on the road and it is easy to overlook it. Traveling south on Avenida de los Gigantes, the entrance to the forest is one mile south of the Founder's Tree. It will be the first turn to the right after passing under the main road. The road to the woman's grove, which is approximately 1/8 of a mile long, is extremely narrow and not ideal for large platforms. If you have a large recreational vehicle, it may be convenient to send someone ahead to make sure the path of a lane is clear before entering the forest.
Once there, you will discover that the women's forest is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth, it is difficult to describe the tranquility of the place.
In addition to its magnificent redwood trees, the forest has two main characteristics. The grove picnic tables have been formed from giant redwood trunks 30 to 40 feet long. These solid wood tables are exclusive to Women & # 39; s Grove and you won't find anything similar anywhere else in Humboldt County.
The second feature is even more unique. In 1933, the world-famous architect of the Julia Morgan Bay area, famous for Hearst Castle, designed a four-sided covered outdoor fireplace for the forest. This magnificent structure survives today in the same way as when it was first built, although its roof of redwood planks has been replaced several times in the last 80 years. The chimneys are still functional, but to use in one of them you must bring your own wood, since wood harvesting is not allowed in the forest.
In the past, when the state of California could afford it, a summer pedestrian bridge was placed each year to allow visitors to cross the eel and visit the Rockefeller Redwood Forest, which is located across the river. Now days you will have to wade the river to do it. Unless you are extremely fit and adventurous, it is probably best to drive the short distance to the Rockefeller Redwood Forest if you wish to visit them.
A short path on the north side of the forest leads to a nice swimming hole in the Eel river. The convenience of this swimming place varies from year to year depending on factors such as rain. As a general rule, The Eel is a good river for swimming during the first months of summer, at the end of summer and in autumn it is less suitable for swimming due to moss, especially in the dry years.
The woman's forest is a very special place! You don't want to just drive, look around for a few minutes and drive to see another redwood forest. No, there are two excellent picnic areas in Northern California, this is one of them! Then, come prepared to spend the day. Bring a picnic basket and a bottle or two of good wine and plan to spend the day, the night also if the weather is warm.
If possible, plan to visit on a day of the week. Few tourists know about the women's forest, but the locals do; therefore, the forest will be more crowded on weekends when the people of Eureka and Fortuna come to the forest to escape the misty summers in northern Humboldt County.
PS: I will tell you about the second large picnic area of Northern California in an upcoming article. Until then!