Tea Grove Women’s Federation, known as the Women’s Grove to locals who live in the area, was founded in the early 1930s by members of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs. Situated on the banks of the South Fork of the River Eel, it is literally in the center of the Redwood Empire. It is less than a mile south of the world-famous Founder’s Tree on the former Highway 101, now called the Avenue of the Giants, and about six miles north of the quaint town of Myers Flat, where the author lived as a child. .
The entrance to the park is on a hairpin bend in the road and is easy to miss. Traveling south on the Avenue of Giants, the entrance to the grove is approximately one mile south of the Founder’s Tree. It will be the first turning to the right after going under the main road. The road to Woman’s Grove, which is about 1/8 mile long, is extremely narrow and not ideal for large trucks. If you have a large RV, it would be wise to send someone ahead to make sure the single lane road is clear before entering the grove.
Once there, you will find that the Grove of Women is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth, it is difficult to describe the tranquility of the place.
In addition to its magnificent redwoods, the grove has two main features. The picnic tables in the grove have been made from giant redwood logs 30 to 40 feet long. These solid wood tables are exclusive to Women’s Grove and you won’t find anything like it anywhere else in Humboldt County.
The second feature is even more unique. In 1933, world-renowned Bay Area architect Julia Morgan of Hearst Castle fame designed a four-sided covered outdoor fireplace for the grove. This magnificent structure survives today in much the same way as when it was first built, though its redwood plank roof has been replaced several times in the past 80 years. The fireplaces are still working but to use them in one of them you will have to bring your own firewood, since it is not allowed to collect firewood in the grove.
In the past, when the state of California could afford it, a summer footbridge was installed each year to allow visitors to cross the Eel and visit the Rockefeller redwood forest that lies across the river. You will now have to ford the river to do so. Unless you’re extremely fit and adventurous, it’s probably best to drive the short distance to the Rockefeller Redwood Grove if you want to visit.
A short path on the north side of the grove leads to a nice swimming hole in the River Eel. The suitability of this spot for swimming varies from year to year depending on factors such as rainfall. As a general rule, La Anguilla is a good river for swimming during the first months of summer, in late summer and autumn it is less suitable for swimming due to the moss, especially in dry years.
The Women’s Grove is a very special place! You’re not going to want to just drive, look around for a few minutes, and drive to see another redwood grove. No, there are two great picnic areas in Northern California, this is one of them! So, come prepared to spend the day. Bring a picnic basket and a bottle or two of good wine and plan to spend the day, and also the night if the weather is warm.
If possible, plan to visit on a weekday. Few tourists know about the Bosque de las Mujeres, but the locals do; therefore, the grove will be busiest on the weekends when people from Eureka and Fortuna come to the grove to escape the foggy summers in northern Humboldt County.
PS: In a future article I will tell you about the second largest picnic area in Northern California. Until then!