★★

Portola Redwoods State Park


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Portola Redwoods park headquarters

Portola Redwoods is just two miles north of the much better-known Big Basin Redwoods. Its trees may be smaller, but it’s still scenic and it’s also a lot less busy. It’s a great choice for a quieter, more secluded redwood experience.

The park’s main entrance and visitors’ center are in a lush redwood grove that’s been protected from logging since 1924. The interpretive signs say the region was selectively logged before then, but most of the area still appears to be old growth with few or no stumps. It doesn’t have the really big trees normally found in old-growth redwood lowlands, but that’s probably the natural condition of the area. It’s possible that Portola escaped significant logging because it didn’t have the big redwoods that nearby heavily-logged locations, like the Middleton Tract and Slate Creek, offered.

Besides the main grove, the park has two remarkable outlying groves: Peters Creek, which is old growth and can only be reached by a long trek with lots of climbing, and Slate Creek, which has been heavily logged but is nontheless quite scenic and easier to reach.

The Portola visitor’s center has a great park relief map. The big, detailed three-dimensional map covers not just Portola but much of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Old-growth redwood hikes

★★

The Peters Creek Loop

Length 11.5 mi · Climbing 1820 ft

A strenuous hike through unexceptional redwoods to a scenic redwood-filled canyon. Until Big Basin recovers from the fire, this is the Bay Area’s best old-growth redwood hike.

Other redwood hikes

★★

Coyote Ridge and Shingle Mill

Length 5.8 mi · Climbing 1100 ft

A nice introduction to the area. Half the hike is in Portola and half in Pescadero, and the loop highlights the subtle differences between the two parks.

Campgrounds

★★★★

Portola Redwoods State Park Campground

$35/night + $8 · Apr–Oct

Located in a deep shady valley, this one of the Bay Area’s nicer redwood campgrounds. There aren’t any really huge redwoods, but it’s quite attractive.

★★★

Slate Creek Trail Camp

$15/night + $8 · Open all year

A backpacking camp with a nice remote feel, in pleasant but unremarkable woods a 3-mile hike from Portola’s visitor center.

The Sequoia Nature Trail, Portola Redwoods State Park

More information

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