I know I say this often, but this is my new favorite park. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was fantastic! I took so many photos, too many to share here. I’ve known that I wanted to hike here since I started living part time in Santa Cruz, and I found a great hike in my 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles, San Francisco book for my hike on Monday.
The park is about 10 minutes from Santa Cruz, CA in Felton. Felton is the just the most interesting little town. Lots of shops and restaurants. The Roaring Camp train is a big draw there. It is a steam train that goes through the redwoods from Felton to Santa Cruz.
I parked in the main lot, my guide book said $6 but it was really $10! A bit pricey, but so worth it. The visitor center is right next to the parking lot and there is an easy loop with a guide that explains about the magnificent redwoods. I’m used to hiking in Oakland at Redwoods Park but these trees were a whole lot bigger. They were huge! Oakland has mostly second growth redwoods, these were original and so tall and big and old! Last time I saw anything like this was years ago when I visited my brother in Humbolt. Some of the trees were protected by fences but some you could literally climb inside the trunk.
Don’t miss “The Giant” which is one of the largest trees along the loop trail and look for the banana slugs which are so yellow in the Santa Cruz mountains unlike the brownish-green ones in the Oakland area.
I started my hike by going along the easy redwood loop trail towards the train tracks and then through the gate towards the creek. The water was flowing pretty well and I walked on the River Trail along the water.
Then it was up and away from the river along the Eagle Creek Trail and it climbed up out of the redwoods to the top of the mountain. As I neared the top, the path became sandy and I learned that this part of the mountain was once under the ocean. This time of year, there were beautiful wild flowers along the path. Under the redwoods, very little grows, so these sun loving wildflowers were along the trail at the top of this hike.
At the top I was rewarded with amazing views. There is a lookout tower platform kind of structure where one can view the surrounding mountains and all the way to the ocean with views of the Big Sur area, Monterey, and Fremont Peak. After trying to photograph the woodpeckers in the dead tree next to the lookout, I headed back down through the redwoods.
The hike along the sandy path was slow because it was so sandy, but when when I reached the redwoods, the temperature cooled off and the path became easier. The hike down was quicker than I thought, probably because I wasn’t stopping to photograph everything along the way.
I definitely want to bring my family here. The redwoods here are so much bigger than one could ever
imagine and the river looked cool and shallow enough to wade in and the views at the top were spectacular. My little nieces and nephew would love climbing in the tree trunks, looking for banana slugs, and seeing the train come through on the huge trestle.
I would love to come back and look for the Santa Cruz kangaroo rat and the Mount Herman June beetle!
Has anyone ever hiked to the swimming hole that I read about in my other guide book? Also, are there any good restaurants to visit in Felton?
Start/end: Parking lot next to visitor center on CA9
Trail names: Redwood Grove Loop trail, River trail, Eagle Creek trail, Pine trail, Ridge Fire Road, Pipeline Road, Redwood Grove Loop trail
Aproximate mileage: 4.8mi