California is one of the largest states in the United States of America, so it seems only fitting that many of the tallest species of tree would be native there. In fact, California is home to over 30 national and state parks that are filled with redwood trees. If you’re not from around there, take a trip to see these oversized trees. There are many places where you can find them, but here are some of the best places to spot these magnificent giants.
Redwood National and State Parks
Actually comprising four parks, Redwood National and State Parks should be a priority on your itinerary; they are located in Northern California’s coastal area.
The must-see at this destination is the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) hike that goes through really old redwood groves. The hike will lead you to where Lady Bird Johnson dedicated Redwood National Park back in 1968. The trail itself is only 2.4 miles (4 km) away from Highway 101, just near the town of Orrick. Take the time to enjoy the trail, and you’ll find breathtaking views of these majestic giant trees.
Muir Woods National Monument
Just 12.4 miles (20 km) north from San Francisco is the Muir Woods National Monument. Though the park isn’t as big as the others, it’s one of the most accessible parks on the list, so it should come as no surprise that it get the most visitors. In spite of its size, the park is home to many beautiful trails with different lengths and terrain. Tip: Try to arrive early so you can find a good parking spot, as it does get crowded in the middle of the day.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
If you think you can spare an entire day to explore one redwood park, then take on Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It’s a 65-mile (105 km) drive south of San Francisco and has been there since 1902, making it the oldest national park in California. It is home to more than 80 miles (128 km) of beautiful trails surrounded by coastal redwood trees. You’ll also love the many waterfalls that you’ll come across in this 7,284-hectare park.
Finally, if you love camping and hiking, then you’ll love Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It’s got a lot of great camping spots and is a popular hiking destination because of its scenic views.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Just southeast of Big Basin Redwoods State Park is Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. It’s a smaller park and has about 15 miles (24 km) worth of hiking trails. The Redwood Grove Trail is actually self-guided, but you can opt for the guided walks through the 300-foot-tall “virgin” redwoods on the weekends. You can also try joining the Roaring Camp Railroads tour for a unique tour experience.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Go 230 miles (370 km) due north of San Francisco and you’ll find yourself in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Here, you’ll find the Rockefeller Forest, the world’s biggest old-growth forest of coastal redwoods. The state park is also famous for the “Avenue of the Giants,” an aptly named highway that features three redwood trees that are so massive that people carved tunnels through them, which you can literally drive through.
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve
Home to some of the tallest redwoods, the trees in the Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve stand up to 350 feet (106 m) tall. The place is very remote, so it’s perfect if you prefer to avoid the crowds. However, the park isn’t so big and only has a couple of miles of trails.
Hendy Woods State Park
If you prefer the warmer and less foggy parks, then Hendy Woods State Park is the place to go. It’s at the center of Anderson Valley’s wine country, featuring a couple of miles worth of trails and some redwood groves. One notable sight is Big Hendy, a redwood grove spanning an area of 32 hectares. The park is also filled with lots of picnic spots near the banks of the Navarro River, where you’ll be treated to a full view of the Big Hendy Grove. And because the place isn’t so foggy, you’ll be able to see the beautiful redwood trees in all their glory.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Considered to be one of the top state parks on the Big Sur Pacific coastline, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park features lots of great trails through redwood groves. Worthy of note is the Ewoldsen Trail, which treats hikers to views of not only redwood groves but the Pacific Ocean as well.
Sequoia National Park
This is where you’ll find the sequoia, one of the largest species of tree in the world. In fact, Sequoia National Park has 18 of the world’s 30 tallest trees, the largest of which is called General Sherman and is estimated to be 2,000 years old. This may sound impressive, but there are other sequoias thought to be over 3,000 years old!
- Most of these redwood parks are easy to find, but it won’t hurt to check the maps before you actually hit the road. Getting lost means you spend more time on the road and less time in these beautiful parks.
- Consider whether to drive or hike. While most parks are best explored on foot, some can be toured by car.
- These parks aren’t all just trails and sights, so keep an eye out for interesting stops.
Hiking through the forest can be fun, but nothing beats a trail winding through a forest filled with gigantic redwoods. And if you admire these trees so much and want to do more than just look at them, you can support the preservation of these forests through the Sempervirens Fund and the Save the Redwoods Fund.