One of the pleasant and relaxing stops along the way during a trip to the Pacific Northwest area of the United States that my wife and I took in 2008 was the Lady Bird Johnson Grove located near Orick, California. Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (the successor to the assassinated John F. Kennedy), was an active promoter of beautification and conservation projects during her husband’s time as president.
It was largely through her efforts and the prodding of her husband (LBJ was well-known for his prodding abilities!) that Congress passed the legislation that created Redwood National Park in 1968, legislation that President Johnson signed into law. A year later, Johnson’s successor, Richard Nixon, dedicated the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in honor of the former first lady and in recognition of her conservation efforts. A plaque in the grove memorializes the occasion.
In order to get to the grove, travel north on Highway 101 from Eureka, California, and go past the town of Orick. Turn onto Bald Hills Road and drive about three miles to the parking lot for the grove.
To explore the grove itself, follow the relatively easy-to-walk one mile loop trail through the grove. The trail is wheelchair accessible. A trail guide, which can be picked up from a box at the trailhead, gives information about the grove and is keyed to numbered markers along the trail. The guide (and markers) helps the visitor better to understand the grove and its life. The guide can be purchased or can be returned to the box after being used by the visitor.
If you enjoy the feeling of being dwarfed by nature, you will enjoy the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. The grove has its share of large Redwood trees. Some are in the prime of their life; some are burned out from lightning strikes or other causes; and some are dead and fallen. Some have hollows in them that are big enough to permit people to stand in them. In death, some are providing nourishment to new trees and other plants. A walk through the grove reminds the visitor that in nature, nothing is wasted. That is a lesson many of us could learn to our profit.
I began this article by writing that the Lady Bird Johnson Grove was pleasant and relaxing, and so it was. The weather was sunny and warm, but not too hot. The trail was easy to travel and well marked, and not crowded, although my Minnesota Twins hat caught the attention of another Twins fan.
If you want a break from the busy-ness of a crowded vacation schedule or the busy-ness of your daily life in general, you could do worse than spend a couple of hours at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.