We recently spent several days in Santa Cruz, California. It was both lovely and relaxing. The beaches and coastal areas are so beautiful. We enjoyed watching surfers riding waves and were awestruck by the sunsets. Santa Cruz has so much to offer. In addition to the beaches are the world famous pier and equally famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. There are also a plethora of restaurants as well as unique shops. But there’s more. Less than a twenty minute drive north is Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
One of the first things we noticed at Henry Cowell Redwoods was the cool, crisp air. It’s like climbing the summit of a mountain. But in reality, you’re only a few hundred yards from where you parked your car. Breathe in. The scent of the forest is fresh and it feels oh so good.
You’re now standing in an old-growth coast redwood forest. A forest of majestic giants that can grow upwards of 300 feet. That’s taller than a 30-floor sky scraper! Furthermore these giants can live to over 2,000 years. I’d love to hear the stories they could no doubt tell.
It’s more than humbling to stand at the base of these giants while looking up. Most often, if you’re in a redwood forest, you can barely even see the tops of the trees. The heavy rains along the coast of California provide the redwoods with much needed water in the winter. And in summer, the thick coastal fog gives them the moisture they need during warmer times.
The root system on coast redwoods isn’t very deep. The roots grow outwards to 100 feet, all the while intertwining with neighboring redwoods. Together they form a very strong root system which increases their stability to withstand strong winds, floods, and, in most cases, whatever nature has in store.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park encompasses almost 5,000 acres of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There are about 20 miles of trails ranging from less than a mile to a little more than 3 miles long. We didn’t have an abundance of time so we chose the Redwood Grove Loop Trail near the visitor’s center. It’s less than a mile long with flat terrain. An easy walk that is also doable for wheelchairs and strollers.
We weren’t alone on the trail. It was by no means crowded, but we were occasionally passed by others also enjoying the magnificent giants. We encountered joggers, young people, grandparents, babies in strollers and those using wheelchairs for mobility. You name it; the awe-inspiring area was being enjoyed by people from all walks of life. It was wonderful being able to escape into the surreal world of redwoods!
He says: Easy trail but still good exercise. The trail was marked by informative signs, so it was educational as well. There were maps of the trails available just outside the visitors center to use and return when finished. We were also able to download a recorded guided tour onto our smartphone that matched up to each of the numbered signs along the trail. Enjoyable and informative.
She says: If I could build a house in the midst of the Redwood Grove Loop Trail… I’d be a delightfully happy camper for the rest of my life!!
~ The Nitty Gritty:
What: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Where: 101 North Big Trees Park Road, Felton, CA 95018
When: March 2016
Who: Just the two of us
- Day Use Area: Sunrise to Sunset.
- The Visitor Center is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily.
- The Nature Store opens daily at 10 am and closes at either 6 pm or sunset, whichever comes first.
Amenities, Activities and events:
- Visitor’s Center
- 113-site Campground
- Hiking trails
- Free guided hikes
- Horseback riding
- Mountain biking
- Fishing (requires a fishing license)
Website: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Check the website for unexpected closures, updated activities and events.