April 4, 2007 by Phil Houtz

Grove of the Titans

People sometimes say there are no more unexplored frontiers. Orion Magazine’s April/May issue puts that fable to rest with an amazing story of two botanists who, in 1998, stumbled upon an unmapped grove of redwoods…some of the largest redwoods alive today.The USGS topo map below shows what I assume is roughly the area where Sillet and Taylor found the mammoth trees. The exact location is a guarded secret.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods USGS

From the map you certainly don’t get the impression that this is a dense, wild, and uncharted region. It’s just a few miles outside of Crescent City after all. Now look at the Google Earth picture of the same area:Jedediah Satellite Photo

Supposedly the USGS maps are derived from aerial photographs similar to the above. But it looks to me as if the terrain is entirely different from that pictured on the map–which is what Sillet and Taylor discovered.

Part of the story the Orion article doesn’t convey is told by the Google Earth picture of the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park below. Look at the clear cutting that surrounds the park. The “Grove of Titans” found by Sillet and Taylor seems all the more precious looking at this picture…another couple of decades of unrestrained logging and those trees would be gone forever.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods Google Earth View


  1. Too Many Clues
    March 23, 2012 - 5:22 am

    @ Jay there … no, it may not be that easy anymore. One site mentioned in another comment said he removed some clues and was not giving maps anymore, as of the month after your comment.

    When I get my clues lined up, I’m going to email Vaden. He wrote on his page he may offer a hint if people are really getting warm. I wrote that link in the box in case anyone wants to peruse the page.

    Also Jay, and others, photos with some form of GPS coordinates are scattered in several locations, with the preponderance next to and across from Stout Grove at the Smith River end of Mill Creek. So the photos may not be worth diddly squat anymore.

    The fact that others have been able to find them eventually is one thing keeeping me going on this.

  2. Jay
    February 10, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    I saw the Grove January 26,2012..Using clues off the internet-but not coordinates..All I can say to Mary Jo-It really is that easy!!!

  3. Opposite Side of the Coin
    July 3, 2011 - 11:55 pm

    In regards to Tyler’s comment, it’s not as simple as that. Prior to David Mickelson divulging in that way, it’s said that the wear in the grove was diminishing, and there were no reports of any mischief.

    An M. D. Vaden site update this week, notes that carving of graffiti has begun in the grove, which follows after Mickelson’s approach, not before it.

    Guess if someone wants to find the area, any site will look good from their perspective though.

  4. Tyler
    June 26, 2011 - 10:28 am

    Isn’t the web wonderful…step by step instructions to the grove of titans-


    But please be mindful and respectful of the tree’s if you go visit.

    ..i still intend to visit the upper sections of clarks creek.

  5. Tyler
    June 26, 2011 - 1:07 am

    If you read the book, get a current USGS togo map of the area, a map of the trails laid out in the 1930’s in JS State Park, it is not too hard to figure out that the grove has to be in the clark’s creek drainage.
    Then it is just a matter of bushwacking the upper area until you run accross the grove.
    It is on my list to do next year and it is not that large an area, especially the upper sections to explore. I’m looking foward to it.
    All the clues are in the book, but not in one chapter.

  6. Mary Jo
    February 25, 2011 - 3:38 am

    @ Quentin ….

    Looks bogus. Nothing in that photo looks like a Grove of Titans redwood. I will not post where it really is, but keep in mind that several photos of these trees have come and gone online. Vaden has one too but it’s in a generic proximity so says the caption. Maybe you ought to take his photo and this one and split the difference. His is across the Smith River from the Jedediah Smith campground. Remember, Preston wrote that it was a long ways to hike to these, like miles. So Vaden’s photo and the one you asked about are both barely 10 minutes walking from parking areas. Do you really expect it to be that easy? You really need to pick a valley or two and start some bushwhacking systematically. They aren’t going anywhere. Been there for milleniums. So maybe a few hunts.

    Adios – Jo Jo

  7. Quentin
    December 8, 2010 - 7:39 pm

    Is this photo on Google Earth properly located?


  8. Redwoods & Prune Juice
    September 2, 2010 - 11:30 pm

    Looks like some guy found it recently with his family and stuck maps to Grove of Titans in people’s noses for a few days until he removed them. Sounded like an ego trip the way the page read. And certainly a dumb thing to do. Can you believe it … At least one of the better redwood sites confronted his foolishness with a big footnote. Although too bad it does not name the guy.


    There are over 10 examples provided.

  9. Chin
    January 10, 2010 - 6:21 pm

    For a very short time, you (mdvaden.com) had a photograph of Del Norte Titan at Panoramio.com. Is that close to where the Grove of Titans really is?

    These GPS coordinates were emailed to me: 41.791171, -124.086685

    That is very close to where you photo used to be, until it dissappeared last year. When I zoom in to those coordinates using Google Earth, the vegetation looks different, like a circle of big redwoods around a marshy area. The texture is noticeably different. Am curious. Would love to see these someday.

  10. Jack
    September 5, 2009 - 4:06 am

    Someone local to the redwoods shared that Devil’s Creek is where Hyperion is at. Google Earth had a photo on Devil’s Creek for a while too. Then the image vanished.

  11. M. D. Vaden
    February 18, 2008 - 8:24 am

    Hello again.

    You emailed a reply to me, I’m fairly certain.

    I linked the website box to a page about my search for the Grove of Titans, which I found.

    Currently, I am abiding by a promise I made to keep the location a secret. So the page gives no new directions, and my album photos for the titans don’t reveal useful details.

    My favorite image in the album is around 92, a vertical panorama of one unique looking Titan.


    M. D. Vaden

    PS – Seems I could say that you did a nice job with cropping your images of the topo map and the satellite image :-)

  12. Mario Vaden
    January 13, 2008 - 4:41 am

    Not sure if you will read this reply or not…

    I read the same article lately, and have a guess as to the area too.

    What part of the article led you to guess the area of the topo map above?

    You can reply if you like – via my site:


    Email on contact page.

    I may hike in that park next week again.

Comments are closed.