In the massive flood of 1964, the once bustling community of Pepperwood was inundated by 30 feet of water. What remains on this floodplain of the Eel River are a few homes and farms, some vegetable stands, and a robust redwood forest. The Drury-Chaney Groves trail bisects the flat alluvial bench populated with redwoods that lie between the Avenue of the Giants and US 101. It is a flat walk and an accessible trail through several extensive groves of towering redwoods.
It was Berkeley paleontologist Ralph Chaney who first brought back ‘dawn redwood’ seedlings with him from China in the late 1940s. This deciduous sequoia joins the coast redwood and the giant sequoia as the three conifers known as redwoods.
Getting there: Drive south on US 101 for 32.5 miles taking Exit 674 (Avenue of the Giants/Pepperwood). Turn left onto the Avenue of the Giants for 2.7 miles. The road passes through what remains of the community of Pepperwood taking a bend to the south, quickly reaching the parking area for the Drury-Chaney Groves trailhead. Parking is available on both sides of the Avenue of the Giants. Approximate driving time, 40 minutes.
The route: From the parking area, the trail crosses a small open space and enters the redwood forest for the remainder of the walk. The level trail crosses the old Barkdull Road (0.6) — a right turn here will take you to another access point from the Avenue of the Giants in half a mile; a left turn leads to the general location of the old Barkdull Ranch (0.1). After crossing the Barkdull Road, the trail reaches the loop trail (0.7). The loop is 0.9 mile long (1.6). The return to the parking area necessitates retracing your steps (2.4).
Extras. Once located between Pepperwood and Stafford, the town of Elinor had a railroad stop, hotel, post office, and logging camp on the east side of the Eel River and a collection of homes, store, and school on the west side. A ferry plied the river connecting the two sides of the town. However, when the 1964 floodwaters receded there was little of Elinor left. Just after you turn left onto the Avenue of the Giants from Exit 674, turn left again on Elinor Road and drive 150 yards to the concrete barriers that block old US 101. You can follow the old road for a short distance to the bridge (dated 1938) crossing Jordan Creek. During periods of low water, it is possible to wander east to the Eel River.