Grove of Old Trees


California > Mendocino/Sonoma region

Grove of Old Trees

Background

A few miles west of the attractive tourist town of Occidental is the Grove of Old Trees, a small redwood grove owned by a Sonoma County land conservancy. Reached by a narrow paved road, the grove is on a broad, flat ridgetop that provides a quiet and serene location, with only an occasional car passing by on Fitzpatrick Lane.

A small network of trails, perhaps coincidentally in the shape of a peace sign, extends through and around the grove. There are no signs but the trails are well-defined and easy to follow. There's a picnic table at the west end of the grove, but no other facilities.

The grove is also known as "Grove of the old trees".

Grove of Old Trees

The grove has been mostly logged and numerous stumps can be seen, especially around the edges of the grove. Although it looks like the biggest trees were cut, a few decent-sized trees remain, especially near the trailhead. Most of the trees, however, are small, which is typical for an upland location like this. Streaks of blue paint on some of the trunks suggest that the grove was slated for additional logging before it was preserved. Nonetheless, despite the presence of some old-growth trees, this is mainly a second-growth grove..

The grove is filled with dense vegetation, with a tanoak understory combined with redwood foliage extending to near the ground. There's a healthy groundcover of sword ferns and other species, but no redwood sorrel. Despite all this vegetation, the grove has a somewhat dry look. The bark of the redwood trees has a shaggy, knotted appearance, rather than the elegantly fluted appearance more commonly found on old-growth redwoods. The shaggy bark seems to appear on redwoods found in dry areas like Big Sur.

Grove of Old Trees

Directions

Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps or in Google Street View.

The grove is well-hidden, with no roadsigns to guide you. The grove is near 17500 Fitzpatrick Lane in Occidental. From Occidental's town center, take Coleman Valley Road west. Pass Willow Creek Road and continue straight onto Joy Road. Turn right onto Fitzpatrick Lane. Look for a small turnout to your right with a wooden archway leading into the grove. The grove is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is free.

Click map to show all roads and trails

Hike Description

From the parking lot, enter the grove under the wooden archway. After just a few steps, head up the trail to your left. This trail leads through the center of the grove and the grove's best scenery. At the next fork (marked "Anne's Circle"), stay to the left again to reach a picnic table. Just past the picnic benches, the woods end at a fence with a vineyard on the other side. Turn right and follow the trail as it skirts the grove, passing through an attractive and relatively open section of redwoods. Ignore an unofficial path to your left and turn left at the next clearly-visible intersection. The trail appears to follow the path of an old dirt road as it descends gently toward Fitzpatrick Lane. This part of the grove is less attractive, with denser vegetation and fewer redwoods. Look for a path to your right and turn onto it. The path is narrow but passes through a wide clearing that might be an old alignment of Fitzpatrick Lane. It then re-enters the grove. Continue straight to return to the parking lot.

Occidental

Links

Food

  • Nestled among conifer-covered hills with a white church rising above, the tiny town of Occidental looks a little like a Vermont village. Clearly geared for Bay Area tourists, the town has a few antique and art stores, some inns, two small grocery stores, and several restaurants, including two venerable places that prominently advertise Italian dinners.
  • A few miles down the road is the even more scenic village of Freestone. Here among the picturesque dairy fields is Wild Flour Bread, one of the greater Bay Area's best bakeries. They sell various types of brick oven-baked bread and scones plus coffee and cider, but do not make sandwiches, cakes, or pastries.

 


 

© 2007, 2012 David Baselt