David, Josh and Isabel had just returned from a tour of the Stout Grove, a stunning community of trees directly across the Smith River from the Jedediah Smith State Park campground, and home to the Stout Tree, officially the largest in the Park. The trees were like nothing they had seen. Fed and Isabel were familiar with large trees, having grown up in the Pacific Northwest under the spreading boughs of mighty Douglas Firs. But these trees positively dwarfed even the tallest Douglas Firs, and their girth was unreal.

Josh and Isabel in front of the Stout Tree

Josh and Isabel in front of the Stout Tree

Desiring to know more, especially why these trees were so incredibly large, they began an Internet search that would eventually lead them into the very heart of the rain forest, under the shadows of hidden giants.

The Grove of Titans looms large in the hearts of redwood-lovers. References to the hidden Grove are rife. You can’t research these trees without running across them. Look up pictures online of well-known trees, and soon you will find images of titans that seem to overshadow all the others. Read descriptions of popular trails in the Park and prepare to be titillated by vague references to the forest’s greatest secret.

The three friends became intensely curious. Many had heard of the Grove, but few knew where it lay. And they weren’t talking.

The Wild Trees, Richard Preston’s best-selling book chronicling the Grove’s discovery in 1998 by Dr. Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor, is intentionally opaque as to the Grove’s location, employing ambiguous language and giving only accidental clues. One of the most prominent early discoverers, an arborist named Mario Vaden, managed to use those unintentional clues to locate the Grove in 2007. His popular website has many pictures of the hidden titans, but also a disclaimer asking seekers not to email him for hints as to its location. When Fred emailed anyway, hoping Vaden would throw a crumb his way, Vaden responded by copying and pasting the disclaimer.

Spurred on more than ever, David and Josh determined to find the Grove themselves.

Next: Clues >>