Oregon's Valley of the Giants is nestled in the heart of Oregon; this enchanting valley is a sanctuary of towering trees and pristine wilderness.
Spanning 51 acres, the Valley of the Giants is a noted "Outstanding Natural Area" and "Heritage Tree Grove."
These giants, some reaching heights of over 200 feet, are a living reminder of the ancient forests that once covered much of the region.
Valley of the Giants: At a Glance
Coordinates: 44.936289, -123.715592
Nearest Town: Falls City, Oregon (30 miles away by very bad roads)
Hike Length: 1.4 miles
Trees in the Valley of the Giants
The Valley of the Giants is known for its awe-inspiring ancient trees, particularly Douglas firs and western hemlocks.
Some of these trees are estimated to be over 500 years old, reaching heights of more than 250 feet (76 meters) and boasting massive girths.
Oregon is known for its abundant and diverse forests, which are home to a wide variety of tree species. The state's diverse geography, ranging from coastal regions to high mountain ranges, creates different microclimates that support various types of trees.
Here are some notable tree species found in Oregon:
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii): The Douglas Fir is the state tree of Oregon and one of the most iconic trees in the Pacific Northwest. It is an evergreen conifer that can reach impressive heights, often exceeding 200 feet (60 meters). Douglas Firs dominate many of Oregon's forests and are highly valued for their timber.
Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla): This coniferous tree is another dominant species in Oregon's forests. It has a graceful appearance with drooping branches and can grow up to 200 feet (60 meters) tall. Western Hemlocks prefer moist environments and are commonly found in the western part of the state.
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata): Known for its aromatic wood and durable timber, the Western Red Cedar is a common sight in Oregon's forests. It is a large evergreen tree that can reach heights of 150 feet (45 meters). This tree species is highly valued for its resistance to decay, making it ideal for construction and outdoor applications.
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa): Ponderosa Pines thrive in Oregon's drier eastern regions. They are tall, straight trees with distinctive orange-red bark and long, slender needles. These trees can reach heights of 100 to 160 feet (30 to 50 meters) and are adapted to survive in areas with less rainfall.
Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis): Sitka Spruce is a large coniferous tree that primarily grows along the Oregon coast. It is one of the world's largest spruce species and can reach heights of up to 300 feet (90 meters). Sitka Spruce is highly valued for its high-quality timber, and its wood is commonly used for musical instruments, aircraft, and boats.
Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum): While not a coniferous tree, the Bigleaf Maple is an important deciduous tree species found in Oregon. It grows in the western part of the state and is known for its large, lobed leaves. Bigleaf Maples provide valuable habitats for various wildlife species and add vibrant colors to Oregon's forests during the fall season.
One of the best-known is the named tree "Big Guy," which was, at one time, the second-tallest Douglas fir tree in Oregon. But, in 1981, it was blown down. At the time, it was over 600 years old and an astounding 230 feet tall. It had an estimated girth of over 36 feet.
Location and Getting There
The Valley of the Giants is situated in Polk County, Oregon, within a remote part of the Oregon Coast Range of Northwest Oregon.
You should note that the road to the trailhead can be a bit difficult to drive on, with multiple potholes and a lot of winding turns.
The area is governed by the Bureau of Land Management and is usually closed during fire season, from August-November.
Flora and Fauna
As an important ecological area, the Valley of the Giants supports a diverse range of wildlife. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of avian species, including the endangered Northern spotted owl and the Marbled murrelet.
Mammals such as black bears, Roosevelt elk, and cougars also inhabit the valley.
Valley of the Giants Hike
There is more than one known trail in the area, but one of the most popular is known as the Valley of the Giants Loop Hike, which takes you from the trailhead to the Big Guy Douglas Fir. It's about 1.4 miles long and gains around 500 feet in elevation.
The hike is considered to be pretty easy and is usually filled with people throughout the summer and fall. It is family-friendly, but some very young kids might have trouble with the terrain.
Why is the Valley of Giants called the Valley of Giants?
It is named the Valley of the Giants because it is home to so many "giant" trees. These include western hemlocks and Douglas firs that can reach heights of over 200 feet.