Bay Area’s Redwood forests are beautiful and are a photographer’s and hiker’s paradise. The sight of emerald-tinged light filtering through the redwood trees, some of the tallest and oldest living things on earth, is magical. A hike among the giants is the most pleasing way for getting up close and personal with them. There are plenty of options in the San Francisco Bay Area to experience nature at its finest amidst the redwood forests. This comprehensive guide about the Bay Area’s Best Redwood Hikes will help you choose a location for your next hiking adventure.Bay Area's Best Redwood Hikes: A Comprehensive Guide #SanFrancisco #BayArea #California Click To Tweet
Muir Woods National Monument
The Muir Woods National Monument, the grove of centuries-old coastal redwoods in Marin County, is one of the most popular Redwood parks in the Bay Area. Deep within the vaulted chamber of redwoods, relish the solemn stillness and silence and enjoy the sudden darting rays of sunlight. No doubt it will be a magical encounter with a living landscape. Entrance Fees: $15.00-Adult (16 years of age and older) Free-Children (15 years of age and under). Choose one among the many trails for a hike and enjoy your day. Go on a hike amidst redwoods and come back feeling invigorated and inspired.
Pro tip: Avoid the crowds by coming early or on a weekday.
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Majestic Mount Tamalpais (Tamalpais comes from the Coast Miwok word “Tamalpais” meaning “bay mountain” or “coast mountain”) rises from the heart of Marin County. The panorama from the 2,571-foot summit is magnificent. The park has several lovely paths, but the Steep Ravine Trail leads hikers through a grove of towering redwood trees along Webb Creek. If you have some time left, take the Dipsea Trail, the 1.5 miles trail to Stinson Beach for some spectacular ocean views. This beautiful trek in Mount Tamalpais State Park offers a taste of everything — a stunning ocean panorama, lush coastal forest, and a chilly damp canyon chock-full of ancient redwoods. Plan this trip on a clear day for the best views.
Pro tip: Also if you are a redwood and waterfall lover then the Cataract Falls hike near Mount Tamalpais is a lovely option.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park located in the Santa Cruz mountains is one of my favorite state parks. It has some of the tallest trees in the Bay Area. This park is most famous for the 40-acre grove of towering old-growth redwoods. The largest tree is approximately 277 feet tall and 1,500 years old. The Redwood Grove Loop Trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is my favorite and is an easy hike. It is a one-mile loop hike that will take you through a stunning forest of skyscraping redwood trees. Whenever I visit, I simply get lost amidst the beauty of this redwood trail. I listen for birds in the canopy of the trees and notice that the woods are quieter than I expect. You can also enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and picnicking here. Right beside the visitor center, it has great picnic areas.
Pro tip: The Redwood Loop Trail is a great option for a short hike (under two miles). If you are in the mood to go for a long hike, try the Cowell Highlights Loop ( 5.9 miles) which has amazing views of the surrounding area, redwoods, and water.
The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.John Steinbeck
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
The thrill of seeing a redwood tree is a feeling that never gets old and refreshes with each new encounter. Samuel P. Taylor State Park, located in Marin County, has miles of hiking and biking trails. The shady stroll through the stately redwoods along Lagunitas Creek is beautiful. This trail features towering redwoods, a rushing creek, and an abundance of wildlife. This moderate 3-mile hike is a must-do for Redwood lovers. It has miles of trails that wind through impressively tall redwoods and Douglas firs. There are also streams, creeks, and waterfalls to enjoy. So get out there and explore the Redwoods!
Pro tip: If you have an hour, picnic among the redwoods beside Lagunitas Creek. The area has lots of picnic tables.
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
A hidden redwood forest located in East Bay hills, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park is a great option for a beautiful redwood hike. Redwoods are awe-inspiring, and hiking among them is a memorable experience. I highly recommend Stream Trail and French Trail, for a lovely hike. These trails wind through the redwoods making for a relaxing escape with your family from the busy city life.
Pro tip: The parking area can be found at the Skyline Gate Staging Area at Pine Hills Drive.
Redwood time moves at a more stately pace than human time. To us, when we look at a redwood tree, it seems to be motionless and still, and yet redwoods are constantly in motion, moving upward into space, articulating themselves and filling redwood space over redwood time, over thousands of yearsRichard Preston
The redwoods in Joaquin Miller Park
Named after the famous poet Joaquin Miller, this park is located in the Oakland Hills and has a great variety of trails to explore. It is a great option for hiking lovers. The recommended hike here combines the two most scenic parts of the park: a lush redwood-filled gorge on the Palos Colorados Trail and a hilltop redwood grove on the Big Trees Trail.
The sunlight of a sunlit land, A land of fruit, of flowers, and A land of love and calm delight; A land where night is not like night, And noon is but a name for rest, And love for love is reckoned best. Where conversations of the eyes Are all enough; where beauty thrills The heart like hues of harvest-home!Joaquin Miller
Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve
Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve is a 5,412-acre preserve located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking Half Moon Bay. Its close proximity to the coast makes it an excellent spot for summertime escape and relief from the Bay Area heat while you enjoy views that include old-growth redwoods to sweeping vistas of the Pacific ocean. The main attraction here is the Purisima Creek Canyon, an abundance of hiking trails that run through stunning Redwood groves, rushing creek, ferns, berries, and wildflowers. Recommended Trails – Purisima Creek Trail and Craig Britton Trail Loop.
This open space preserve truly has it all and is perfect for a day trip. I enjoy hiking amongst the ravishing Redwoods in this beautiful park. To be honest, it feels like I am trotting through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Humboldt sometimes.
Pro tip: You can also start at the North Ridge Trail for a bit challenging hike
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park but a massive wildfire raged through the park, damaging much of the forest. Interestingly, Redwood trees in the grove of old-growth redwoods, some of them 2,000 years old survived the fire. You can hike the Redwood Loop Trail which is a 0.5 miles flat trail. The Redwood Loop Trail is a short and easy trail that will take you through a stunning Redwood forest. Although the wildfire damage is evident, the experience of hiking through these majestic trees is still magical. If you are in the mood for a long hike, then hiking the Berry Creek Falls trail is a great way to spend a day.
Pro tip: On your way to the Big Basin Redwood State Park in California, visit a hidden gem – Taungpulu Kaba- Aye Monastery – located amidst redwood trees.
P.S: Big Basin is closed indefinitely due to the August 2020 lightning fire. Please check the status before you go.
Portola Redwoods State Park
This beautiful state park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is home to some of the oldest Redwoods in California. The park features several trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. A trip to the Peters Creek Grove at Portola Redwoods State Park may be the most awe-inspiring hike in the Bay Area. The 11.9-mile round trip leads you through old-growth redwood forests and onto a scenic canyon full of towering trees! The sanctity that this grove brings will move anyone who visits, making it worth every ounce of effort put into walking these paths. I felt wonderful under the mighty branches of the redwoods while being surrounded by nature’s beauty.
Pro tip: The Old Tree Trail is a great option for a short-distance hike (less than two miles). At the end of the trail, meet the big tree that stands alone. This coast redwood tree is one of only 14 redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains that are more than 300 feet tall and estimated to be about 1,200 years old. For a longer and more strenuous day hike, try the Peters Creek Loop.
Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
The Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is a beautiful preserve located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is one of Santa Clara County’s best-preserved, second-growth redwood forests. Most of the trees here are less than 150 years old. This preserve in South Bay has several miles of trails that wind through redwood groves and oak woodlands. The best trail for redwood lovers in Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve is the 2.5-mile Alma Trail. This is a great place for a day trip from San Jose.
Pro tip: Near the parking lot enjoy a self-guided interpretive trail that circumnavigates Upper Lake.
Redwood Grove Nature Preserve
Redwood Grove Nature Preserve in Los Altos is home to some beautiful Redwoods. This 6-acre Redwood grove is perfect for a quick Redwood fix. It is easily accessible from the parking lot with a boardwalk that intertwines with Adobe Creek. The Redwood Grove Nature Preserve is perfect for a leisurely stroll through a beautiful redwood forest, at any time of the day. You can also enjoy hiking, birding, and picnicking here. It is a serene place in the middle of Silicon Valley.
Pro Tip: Free parking available on University Ave.
Sanborn County Park
Sanborn County Park is a 3,453-acre park located in the Santa Cruz Mountains between Saratoga and Skyline Boulevard. Relax in the Peterson Grove and hike towards the Todd Creek Redwoods Grove. The Sanborn County Park’s hiking is spectacular, with its towering Douglas firs and tranquil madrone- and tanoak-covered hills. The Todd Creek Redwoods Grove adds to the majesty. This 5.6-mile forest view loop leads you into lushly wooded gorges and a shady redwood forest.
Pro Tip: Begin your hike from the Sequoia parking lot
Mt. Madonna County Park
Less than 15 minutes from Gilroy, you can whisk away to a quiet haven of redwoods gently swaying in the wind at Mt. Madonna County Park. It is a Santa Clara County park located on the slopes of Mount Madonna, one of the highest peaks in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. The park offers stunning views of Monterey Bay and the Santa Clara Valley Silicon. The redwoods here are some of the tallest in Santa Clara County. Take a lovely, quiet walk through the redwoods here. Follow the Mount Madonna Loop and Lower Miller Trail.
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
Mather Redwood Grove is located in the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. Mather Redwood Grove is a stunning grove of redwoods with a beautiful amphitheater built right in the center of a ring of redwoods planted in the 1930s. It is a beautiful and peaceful place to take a stroll and admire these magnificent trees.
Redwood hikes in Big Sur are some of the best in the Bay Area. There are a variety of hikes to choose from, depending on your level of fitness and interest. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll through a redwood forest, there’s a hike for you in Big Sur. I recommend two trails that are my favorite too – Pfeiffer Falls Trail – a 1.4-mile easy scenic hike along Pfeiffer Big Sur Creek through one of the park’s finest redwood groves. It ends at a 60-foot high waterfall. And not t forget the Oak Grove Trail – I love the variety of ecosystems here, beginning with redwood groves, open oak woodlands, and dry chaparral.
Pro Tip: There is something magical about breakfast at Big Sur Lodge. Here, you are surrounded by the natural tapestry that defines Big Sur. It is the perfect place to relax and take in all the beauty.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Sonoma County
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is a beautiful park located in Sonoma County, offering the onlooker great inspiration and a place for quiet reflection. This Serene, 805-acre reserve is home to coast redwood trees; a living reminder of the magnificent primeval redwood forest. The oldest living redwood tree in the grove is the Colonel Armstrong Tree. The park has several hiking trails, making it a great place to explore the Redwoods. This is one of the closest redwood groves to San Francisco. Recommended trails are the Discovery Trail and the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Redwood tree facts
What are the 3 types of redwood trees?
Coast Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), and Dawn Redwoods (Metasequoia).
Which is the tallest known tree species in the world?
Coast Redwoods are the tallest known tree species in the world and are native to Humboldt County, growing in the cool climate that makes up the coastal regions of northern California.
How are giant Sequoias different from Coast Redwoods?
The slightly shorter Giant Sequoias are only found in the western Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Where can we see Dawn Redwoods?
The Dawn Redwood is native to central China and is considered to be the closest relative of the coast redwood.
Tips for hiking in the Redwoods
- Make sure to carry plenty of water and food with you, as there are few opportunities to resupply once you’re in the middle of the hike.
- Be mindful of your impact and stick to established trails to help preserve the Redwoods’ delicate ecosystem.
- Take some time to enjoy the silence and serenity of nature– let go of your day-to-day worries and just take in the beauty around you.
- Check the weather conditions before you set out, as the Redwoods can be especially slippery when wet.
- Leave no trace – pick up any litter you see and do your part to keep the Redwoods clean and pristine.
- And finally, have fun! Hiking is supposed to be enjoyable so make sure to stop and enjoy the views often.
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Hiking is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. The Bay Area has some of the best redwood hikes in California. The mere sight of redwoods is breathtaking and awe-inspiring. It’s tough to comprehend how a living thing could survive hundreds of years withstanding fire, floods, and windstorms, and thankfully some of them have been spared the woodman’s ax, which has ravaged so much of the original forests. They are magnificent specimens to behold and admire. I hope this comprehensive guide will help you find a beautiful redwoods hiking trail that matches your requirement. Whether it be a shorter or longer hike (or somewhere between), there’s sure to be one that you’re looking for. So select a beautiful redwood hike in the Bay Area and indulge in forest bathing among Redwoods! Leave a comment below if you have any questions or DM me on Instagram @travelrealizations
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