Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Trail
20.00 Miles
N/A
N/A
(3.00)1
(3.00)
(2.00)
Yes
Yes
Yes
N/A
Felton
Santa Cruz
More Info

The Redwood Grove Loop Trail features some of the park's biggest trees, an easy trail and interpretive signs.
The Redwood Grove Loop Trail features some of the park's biggest trees, an easy trail and interpretive signs.
The Coastal Redwoods at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park sit relatively close to the town of Santa Cruz, which lies just downstream of the San Lorenzo River. It's a bit surprising then that the enormous specimens of the tree found here avoided the ax of lumberjacks in the 1800's. Luckily for visitors today, these giants can be enjoyed while getting in miles of hiking.

Joseph Welch purchased 350 acres in 1867 and used the large trees found here as a tourist draw rather than a source of building supplies. A hotel and resort drew such dignitaries as Andrew Carnegie and Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Theodore Roosevelt.

In the center of Cathedral Redwoods, which we had all to ourselves for most of our visit.
In the center of Cathedral Redwoods, which we had all to ourselves for most of our visit.
The park's easy access to Santa Cruz and being right next door to the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad mean that the park is a natural draw for tourists, particularly those with children. For easy trails such as the Redwood Grove Loop Trail that can mean crowds.

Don't avoid the loop trail though, because you'll miss a number of the park's signature features. An interpretive trail guide describes at a number of stations different aspects of Redwoods and other flora and fauna that might be found in the park. You will likely learn something new about Redwoods in the process no matter how long you've lived in California.

Coppertone crosses a small bridge on the way back to the park visitor center.
Coppertone crosses a small bridge on the way back to the park visitor center.
Two of the park's named trees are on the loop trail. The first, aptly named Giant, is one of the largest Redwoods you'll likely see. The second, named for General Fremont, goes with a story claiming that General Fremont slept in the hollowed out core of the tree with Kit Carson in 1846. Years later, when asked about the story, Fremont was said to have replied, "It's a good story; let it stand". Whether he meant the tree or the story is not known. Both ended up living on.

South of the Redwood Grove Loop the park boundaries expand and a series of trails shoot in many directions. Fire roads provide relatively easy access with wide trails throughout. Smaller trails have a mixture of trail use exclusions, though all support hikers. These smaller trails will sometimes be rougher and are more likely to be a bit overgrown with poison oak, but are typically more scenic and more peaceful.

The park is composed of two unattached pieces of land. The nearby Fall Creek Unit lies a short distance to the northwest of the main park entrance station. Though it sees far fewer visitors it consists of far more acreage. Look there for more solitude.

Photos
An incomplete view of the large Redwood known as Giant. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
A closer view of Giant. Note the candy cane like twist of the bark. In some cases Redwoods twist to right themselves in reaction to Earthquakes. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
The entrance into the Fremont Tree. The conical cavity within might have a 15 foot ceiling. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Be prepared for a good number of people on the Redwood Grove Loop Trail. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone ventures away from the loop trail headed towards Cathedral Redwoods. The solitude has already been increased! (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone found the perfect seat for a short rest as we neared the end of our hike. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Recommended Item
Recommended Item Day Hiker's Guide to California's State Parks (Walking California Series)
John McKinney
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Contains 150 day hikes in Southern California's magnificent state park system. Includes walks in the parks, preserves, and historic sites in mountains, forests, desert and coastal locales. From Anza-Borrego's palm oases (near San Diego) to the magnificent redwoods at Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay to the Salton Sea. This single volume is a great addition to the library of every hiking enthusiast, families and seasoned veterans alike.