It’s almost Memorial Day weekend, and if you’re like me, you’re looking forward to spending the long weekend outside. Like ninety-five percent of Californians, I live in an urban area, and a quiet escape to the redwoods — even for just a few hours — is just what’s needed to make the most of the weekend and remind me why I love where I live.
Fortunately, we don’t have to go too far to find a redwood forest to explore! Here are a few of my favorite close-to-home parks, all of them less than 30 miles from an urban center.
1. Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve: Located 22 miles north of Santa Rosa, Armstrong Redwoods and neighboring Austin Creek cover more than 6,000 acres — and among the towering ancient redwoods here, you’ll feel much farther from civilization than you really are.
2. Joaquin Miller Park: This park within the city limits of Oakland is close to my home and heart. Joaquin Miller lets city and suburb dwellers find peace along miles of trails through coast redwood and coast live oak forest, with the calming sounds of the creek and birdsong in the air. This is a great time of year to see the park’s magnificent spring wildflower display. Save the Redwoods League protected the redwood groves here in 1929.
3. Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve: This gem of the peninsula lies only 14 miles south of San Mateo, but you’ll think you’re in another world altogether. The preserve was established with a $2 million gift from the League; we’ve protected nearly 1,700 acres in this park. Enjoy hiking through the giant redwoods, lush ferns and wildflowers to reach dramatic views of the ocean.
4. Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Thirty miles from the heart of San Jose, Big Basin shelters magnificent old redwoods with a fascinating history. The redwoods of Big Basin, photographed in the 19th century, helped to inspire the early conservation movement, and Big Basin became the first coast redwoods state park in 1901 (then called California Redwoods Park). Go see the inspirational ancient giants for yourself!
I’ll be in Calaveras this weekend, but whether you’re staying close to home or roaming far and wide, let me know where you’re headed. I hope to see you in the forest!
Let’s keep in touch on Twitter! Follow me at @SamH4Redwoods for news and insights about redwoods and conservation.