Redwood Hikes

A guide to California’s old-growth redwood parks

Questions? Comments? Please contact Dave Baselt at db@redwoodhikes.com
The Foothill Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Foothill Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

This guide to California’s old-growth redwood and giant sequoia parks has photos and reviews of almost every public trail with a significant amount of old growth. Park campgrounds and nearby non-redwood trails are also covered.

Besides having the world’s tallest trees, California’s extraordinary coast redwood forests are an immensely enjoyable place to go for a walk. In the deep shade of these serene woodlands, sun-dappled, elegantly fluted tree trunks rise straight as an arrow into the sky over burbling streams, spectacular fallen trunks, and a lush layer of ferns and sorrel. Redwood trails are usually wide, smooth, and easy to walk, with a springy mud-resistant carpeting of needles, and bridges to span even minor obstacles. The forest is cool in the summer but rarely below freezing in the winter.

Things to do

Top ten redwood hikes

An overview of California’s ten best old-growth redwood trails.

All hikes

A list of all old-growth redwood hikes and selected second-growth hikes.

Camping

A list of drive-in campgrounds in old-growth redwood parks.

Backpacking

Reviews of the trail campgrounds.

Redwood regions

Redwoods grow in a 450-mile-long, 30-mile-wide strip of Northern California's coast, from the Oregon border to the Big Sur region south of San Francisco.

The remote northern groves are the lushest, most attractive, and have the biggest trees.

Southern groves are drier-looking, and a dense layer of shrubs often blocks views of the redwoods. But the weather is better and the area is more developed, so the groves take less time to get to and there’s more to do besides seeing redwoods.

See the following pages for more information about each region.

Redwood National and State Parks

The biggest, tallest, and most scenic redwoods. If you can spend at least 3–4 days on a trip to the redwoods, this is the place to go.

Humboldt Redwoods and Vicinity

The long, verdent Eel River Valley supports stands of massive redwoods with a dark, open, and expansive cathedral-like look.

Mendocino and Sonoma Counties

This area only has a few tiny redwood groves, but they’re really nice.

San Francisco Bay Area

A wide variety of scenery with parks that can be visited on a day trip. There are also a lot of shady second-growth redwood parks.

Big Sur

Small redwoods grow in the deep, narrow canyons of Big Sur’s coastal mountains. The hikes in this region tend to be very difficult.

Also on this site

Giant Sequoias

The world’s largest trees by volume are related to redwoods and grow in isolated groves on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

San Francisco Bay Area

Non-redwood parks

Coverage of non-redwood parks throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Closures

Many of the redwood parks south of San Francisco are completely or partially closed due to damage from fires in 2020 and 2021. All redwood parks north of San Francisco are open as normal.

  • Big Basin Redwoods is mostly closed. 71 cars per day are allowed in by reservation, and only a few trails and fire roads are open.

Where to find the best redwoods

Most remaining old growth redwoods are in six large parks, but a lot of other parks have small old-growth groves that are very scenic. The best parks usually have the words “Redwoods State Park” in their names.

The flat bottoms of creek valleys have the biggest trees, since there’s plenty of water year-round and fires are less intense. Such alluvial flats host the spectacular, cathedral-like groves that redwoods are famous for. Somewhat unfortunately, they also tend to be where roads are built. Uplands have fewer big redwoods and more non-redwood trees, but are often quieter and more remote.

 


 

© 2010, 2022 David Baselt