Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve
Incredible beauty in a remote part of Mendocino County
HIGHLIGHTS: Montgomery Woods is one of the more remote redwood parks in California. Once you've navigated the 13 miles of twisty road west of Ukiah, you'll be rewarded by some of the tallest trees in the world.
The conservation effort here started small, with a 9-acre donation by naturalist Robert Orr to Save the Redwoods League in 1943. By 2008 the League had helped boost the acreage to more than 2,100 acres.
ACTIVITIES: Montgomery Woods offers picnicking, hiking and botanizing. Expect great trees. There's no visitor center or campground, but there are new trailhead amenities, thanks to members of Save the Redwoods League.
TRAILHEAD UPGRADES: In November 2010, Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks finished the first $340,000 phase of improvements at Montgomery Woods, including new signage, improved parking facilities, new accessible restrooms and picnic tables under the giant trees. Learn more about the trailhead upgrades.
VISITOR CENTER: There is no visitor center at Montgomery Woods SNR.
CAMPGROUNDS: There are no campgrounds at Montgomery Woods SNR.
TRAILS: Montgomery Woods has only one trail: a 2-plus-mile loop following an old fire road that leads to five separate redwood groves that have never been logged. In 2009 Save the Redwoods League began working with the state to identify a new route for the trail that will be drier in the winter and less prone to erosion. To get to the trailhead, take the Orr Springs Road west from Ukiah at exit 549 on Highway 101. Approximately 1.75 miles west of Orr Hot Springs, look for the Reserve sign, restroom and parking lot on the left.
MUST-SEE, UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: A 367.5-foot redwood here was once declared the world's tallest redwood. It is 10 feet in diameter, and its first branch pops out of the trunk at 190 feet. Montgomery's once-famous redwood is not marked-you just have to observe and speculate. The Reserve's other attractions include spawning steelhead and coho salmon in the Big River and some interesting upland areas, with 300 acres of native California oatgrass (Danthonia californica) and a rare stand of Oregon oak (Quercus garryana), that Save the Redwoods League recently helped the Reserve acquire. During their breeding season in early spring, look for orange-bellied California newts on the move.
HIDDEN GEM: Montgomery Woods' fern forest, a large expanse of 4- to 5-foot-tall giant chain ferns, is one of the less heralded attractions along the Montgomery Woods trail.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve or call the state parks' Mendocino district office at (707) 937-5804.
EAT: Try eating at the Ukiah Brewing Co., which offers an organic menu!
Regan Ranoa, Outreach Manager, enjoys the freshly made sandwiches from Schat's Bakery in Ukiah.
FAVORITE HIKE: A trail follows Montgomery Creek upstream to five separate redwood groves that have never been logged. The trail is about three miles long, laid out in a shallow loop that takes about an hour to travel.
FAVORITE PARK ATTRACTION: Enjoy a secluded picnic, with tables provided along the trail.
Regan loves the gorgeous, light blue stream that winds through the redwood groves during the spring.
DON'T MISS: Be sure to watch for the many newts that come out during a rainstorm.
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