12 Ways to Make the Most of Summer in the Redwoods

Summer is just a month away, with its long, golden days beckoning us outdoors for warm-weather adventures. Don’t let fall sneak up on you without making the most of this sunshiny season! Here are 12 ways to make the most of summertime in the redwoods.

Photo by Paolo Vescia
Photo by Paolo Vescia

  1. Join a backpacking trip. This summer California State Parks is hosting three backpacking trips in the Santa Cruz area, famous for its beautiful redwood forests. The trips range from two to three nights with options for every experience level.
  2. Camp under the canopy. Day hikes through the fragrant forest, evenings circled ‘round the campfire — summer’s drier days make for perfect camping conditions. Use the Explore Coast Redwoods eGuide or online trip planning tool to discover your next camping trip. Keep in mind that since summer is prime camping time in the redwoods, reservations are recommended.
  3. Find a sweet swimming hole. Nothing says “summer” like a refreshing outdoor swim. The huge, bright-aqua swimming hole at Richardson Grove State Park is calm and deep; here are four more swimming spots for you to include in your warm-weather adventures.
  4. Enjoy a half- or full-day hike. Enjoy the mild summertime climate in the forest on a full-day hike, or take advantage of the extra daylight hours and fit a half-day hike into your busy schedule. Find the perfect hike for you.
  5. Pack a picnic and feast in the forest. Does it get any better than a delicious meal shared with family or friends in the redwoods? The Explore Coast Redwoods eGuide mentions parks with great picnic spots, like Mount Tamalpais and Butano State Parks. Don’t forget to keep endangered wildlife safe by cleaning up every crumb.
  6. Hit the trails on your bike. Mountain bikers can refer to the Explore Coast Redwoods eGuide to find parks and trails where bicycles are welcome. Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is renowned for its mountain biking; trails also abound at Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
  7. Spend the day at the beach. Talk about the best of all worlds — lots of coastal redwood parks also have gorgeous beaches! Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, Russian Gulch State Park, and Gualala Point Regional Park are a few. Be sure to bring warm layers in case the fog rolls in.
  8. Big River, Mendocino Headlands State Park. Photo by JD Lasica, Flickr Creative Commons
    Big River, Mendocino Headlands State Park. Photo by JD Lasica, Flickr Creative Commons
  9. Take to the water in a kayak. Rent a kayak or bring your own and take in the spectacular views from the water. The cove at Van Damme State Park is ideal for launching kayaks into the ocean, and the lagoons of Humboldt Lagoons State Park are perfect for kayaks as well.
  10. Bring your canine pals on a dog-friendly adventure. When you head off on your summertime outdoor adventures, you don’t have to leave your dog at home – many parks, like Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Arcata Community Forest, and Pogonip, have dog-friendly trails.
  11. Get your hands dirty – for a great cause. Remove invasive plants with Sempervirens Fund, REI, and Sufferfest Beer Company at Castle Rock State Park, and enjoy a nice cold beer after all your hard work! The volunteer event is on June 15, and open to ages 13 and up.
  12. Go wildlife-spotting. Each redwood park is home to diverse wildlife – keep your eyes peeled for all manner of critters in and around the forest. Birders will be thrilled by glimpses of spotted owls at Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, while at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, you can visit the grazing herd of Roosevelt elk. Look for frogs and newts at Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, and at Humboldt Lagoons State Park, see if you can spot bald eagles, snowy plovers, whales, and dolphins.
  13. Experience a national park – for free! The National Park Service is offering free admission (to those sites that normally charge an entrance fee) on five days in 2019. On August 25, the birthday of the National Park Service, you can visit any of our spectacular national parks free of charge.

The redwood forest offers something for everyone year-round, but in the summertime, the sky’s the limit. Let us know how you make the most of the redwoods this summer!

About the author

Kelsey Piras is a writer and editor based in London. Her Northern California roots and time among the redwoods are endless sources of inspiration and awe.

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