Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Located in beautiful Sonoma County
HIGHLIGHTS: Just a few miles north of the Russian River at Guerneville, Armstrong Redwoods and Austin Creek are complementary parks totaling more than 6,000 acres.
Armstrong Redwoods is shady and protected-a reminder of the magnificent primeval redwood forest that covered much of this area before logging operations began during the 19th century. The park offers self-guided nature trails, horseback riding, and a variety of picnic facilities. From Highway 101, take the River Road exit in Santa Rosa. Go west on River Road to Guerneville. At a stop light, turn right onto Armstrong Woods Road, which ends at the entrance to both the Reserve and the Recreation Area.
ACTIVITIES: Armstrong Redwoods SNR offers visitors a visitor center, large outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails, and numerous picnic areas. The most well-known feature is the Pioneer Nature Trail, which meanders through a mile and a half of stunning redwood forest. This trail is mostly flat and level, with one set of steps.
VISITOR CENTER: The visitor center is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Call (707) 869-2958 for more information.
CAMPGROUNDS: There are no campgrounds at Armstrong Redwoods SNR. However, visitors can camp at Austin Creek State Recreation Area's Bullfrog Pond, which is adjacent to Armstrong Redwoods SNR and accessed via the same parking area. Campsites are available throughout the year, first-come, first-served.
TRAILS: Pioneer Trail to the Armstrong Tree. This one-mile round trip starts out from the visitor center parking lot. In a tenth of a mile you'll be at the base of the park's tallest tree, the 310-foot Parson Jones. In another four-tenths of a mile, you'll be at the reserve's oldest tree, the 1,400-year-old Armstrong. It was named for Colonel James Armstrong, the lumberman who won protection for this area in the 1870s. From there, the trail loops around the tree and back to the parking lot.
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: The remarkable Icicle Tree was named for its huge, strange-looking burls, which are outgrowths. It's about one-third mile from the Armstrong Tree, on a trail that heads to the east. If you're in the reserve in March or April, look for delicate, pink-to-purple calypso orchids.
HIDDEN GEM: If you're visiting in winter or spring, don't miss Armstrong's frothy waterfall, a short uphill hike on the East Ridge trail, just above the picnic area.
SPECIAL EVENTS: School and Adult Group Docent-Led Tours at Armstrong Redwoods. Docents are available for special redwood ecology school group tours as well as adult group tours.
Celebrate Armstrong's Annual Old Grove Festival. Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods presents the fest in the Forest Theater, a natural amphitheater located in the heart of the reserve. Enjoy musical and theatrical productions that help Stewards raise funds to support its educational and stewardship programs, as well as continued advocacy for ALL state parks. The event is held annually in September. Check out the web site for more Event Information and to RSVP.
STOP: Carolyn Meyer, Membership Coordinator, says "during your visit to the park combine wine tasting in Napa or Sonoma County for a truly unique experience. Or a canoe trip on the Russian River." You can toast the wonder of the redwoods at the Korbel Champagne Cellars.
FAVORITE HIKE: The Discovery and Pioneer Trails wander along the canyon floor through the largest remaining old-growth redwood forest in Sonoma County.
FAVORITE PARK ATTRACTION: The ancient redwoods! Jan Corazza, Director of Major and Planned Gifts, says "What I love most about Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is that it is relatively close to San Francisco (about 75 miles), yet has the feel of a much more remote park. For visitors and others who would like to experience the redwoods beyond Muir Woods, this is fairly accessible, and positively breathtaking."
DON'T MISS: Be sure to check out Austin Creek State Recreation Area. It's accessed by the same entrance as Armstrong Redwoods State Park.
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