Skateboarding in the redwoods

Example #4,528 that there are lots of ways to enjoy these incredible natural places

Dana Poblete, left, and Princess Cortez, skate down a hill in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Photo by Daniel Gorostieta.

This memory: My girlfriend and I were walking along a  trail in Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland when we rounded a corner and came across two teenage boys doing something kind of ridiculous. They had built a giant skateboard out of 2-by-4s and rubber wheels from a toy wagon, and were attempting an off-road maneuver through the ruts and bends of the trail. They failed spectacularly, over and over and over again as we watched. Blood, scrapes, but no lack of determination. It was an amusing diversion for a few minutes for us to watch, but I quickly forgot all about it.

Until several years later, during my first year working at Save the Redwoods League, I asked my colleague Dana Poblete how she’d spent the previous weekend.

“Oh, I went to Samuel P. Taylor State Park, hiked around, went skateboarding,” she said.

Inside my head, a needle scratched across a record. “What?”

Yes, people do skateboard in the redwoods

Poblete, who describes herself as an “easy breezy” kind of skateboarder, says that she made this connection between skateboarding and nature while growing up in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“Hearkening back to days skating by the ocean as a teenager, there is just something about skating in a scenic place,” she says. “I love being outdoors so much, and so there is nothing better than being in a beautiful place and getting to skate at the same time.”

She says that the paved trails in a lot of parks make it easy.

I should note here that the skateboarders in the memory I shared at the beginning of this story were almost certainly breaking a lot of rules meant to protect both them and the natural resources of the park. Poblete sticks to the paved trails where skateboarding is allowed in many parks.

“I know this is an unpopular opinion among certain outdoor enthusiasts, but I think it’s great that some of the redwood parks have paved trails,” Poblete says. “I really see those trails as an equalizer. They are essential for certain people with disabilities as well as elders who are not able to easily go on dirt trails.”

Above: We did a lot of fun things on our recent trip to the redwoods of Big Sur, including skateboarding.

Does she get a negative reaction from some people, skateboarding in places that some people consider natural temples?

“I haven’t noticed getting weird looks from people yet. Most people seem intrigued or find it cool,” she says. “I realize that skateboarding has been stigmatized in the past because it has long been portrayed as an irreverent culture, rooted in rebellion and punk ethos. While those were some of the things I loved about skate culture when I was young and still really appreciate about it, skate culture is much more diverse now. It’s an incredibly fast-growing global culture and a relevant form of recreation for so many young people today.

I searched YouTube and found a number of people who, like Poblete, were skateboarding in the redwoods. Some of them stick to proper roads and trails, while others go where they’re not supposed to go. Some bomb the steep mountain roads. In one video, they were trying to skate across a downed tree in a state park, which is definitely not OK.

Just another way to enjoy the beauty of redwoods

Curious if skateboarding in the redwoods isan actual thing, I called Marnin Robbins, the interpretive program manager for the North Coast Redwoods District of California State Parks.

“I can’t say I’ve actually seen people skateboard in the parks,” Robbins says. “But I wouldn’t be surprised. I kind of like the idea of people finding creative, personal ways to connect with the redwoods.”

Robbins said that any skateboarder looking to ride in the parks should check to see where it’s allowed. While every park is different, he suggested that most paved areas are probably OK, as any place where bicycles are allowed (as long as it’s not a trail for bikes only.).

Poblete tries to be conscientious when she skates in the redwoods. “Wherever I skate, I always acknowledge what Native lands I’m on. In the redwood parks I stay on low-traffic roads and well-paved trails, and I’m always mindful of the space, other people, and other vehicles,” she says. “There are rules of etiquette at the skate parks that experienced skaters understand, respect, and enforce. So, skaters in general are fully capable of bringing this same respect when skating in other places like the redwood forest.”

A little research has revealed that, in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park and Joaquin Miller Park allow skateboarding in some nice redwood areas. Just do your research or ask park staff where to go.

I can see some people reading this and wondering, why would you want to skateboard on a surface that isn’t necessarily smooth that might make you crash?

To those folks, I say, well, you don’t know skateboarders.

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About the author

Garrison Frost is the League's former Director of Communications.

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