The largest continuous stretch of old-growth redwoods on Earth
HIGHLIGHTS: In the early 1900s, loggers came to what is now Humboldt Redwoods State Park to cut down lofty ancient redwoods for grape stakes and shingles. The founders of the League thought that was akin to “chopping up a grandfather clock for kindling.” From the acquisition of a single grove in 1921, the League has raised millions of dollars to build and expand this park. Today Humboldt Redwoods spans 53,000 acres, an area almost twice the size of San Francisco. About one-third, or 17,000 acres, of the park is old-growth redwood forest. That’s the largest expanse of ancient redwoods left on the planet.
This park offers one of the best places to see redwoods by car in the entire North Coast region: the 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants. Good stops along the way include Founder’s Grove, with its fallen 362-foot Dyerville Giant, and the California Federation of Women’s Clubs Hearthstone, created by famed architect Julia Morgan.
ACTIVITIES: Hiking, camping, running, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, bicycling, picnicking, horseback riding and plenty of tree gazing. Start at the visitor center and branch out into one of the finest forests in the world. Bring water, appropriate clothing and a park map.
- The park’s paved roads and multiuse trails (MUT) offer more than 75 miles of magnificent riding. Five trail camps are also available.
Just for Kids
- During the peak summer months, Humboldt Redwoods State Park offers interpretive programs that are sure to inform, entertain and delight visitors of all ages. Activity details are posted at locations throughout the park.
- Nature walks are usually in the morning and last about an hour. Locations and topics vary so you may want to participate in more than one during your stay. These are suitable for all ages.
- Junior Ranger programs (external link) are in the afternoon and usually meet at the visitor center, though sometimes there are programs at other locations. Lasting about an hour, these activities are for visitors age 7 to 12.
- A visit to the redwoods isn’t complete without an old-fashioned campfire program! Sing songs, hear stories, learn about a fascinating topic, and enjoy the cool night air around a roaring campfire—what could be better?
- Children of all ages can help the park by participating in the Litter Getter program. Kids earn rewards for each bag of litter they gather. Check at any open campground kiosk for details.
- If you come in the off-season, you and your kids can work your way through a state park Adventure Guide (external link) together. Download the guide, pick it up at the visitor center, or call 916-653-8959 to order a copy.
- Redwood EdVentures (external link) are fun for the entire family. Take a self-guided treasure hunt in many North Coast redwood state parks, including Humboldt Redwoods. Find the final clue and win a cool patch!
- Before heading to the park, explore the Redwoods Learning Center. It offers fun, redwoods-themed activities, classroom tools, and ways to get involved in redwoods’ protection. Redwoods bingo, anyone?
VISITOR CENTER: “One of the best in the state,” says Ranger Emily Peterson. Park headquarters and the visitor center are located on the Avenue of the Giants, State Route 254, between the towns of Weott and Myers Flat. For more information, call 707-946-2263.
CAMPGROUNDS: Humboldt Redwoods has more than 250 sites in three locations. The park offers a wide variety of camping experiences. Family campsites provide a picnic table and fire ring. Drinking water, flush toilets and hot pay showers are nearby. Access is limited for RVs up to 24 feet. There are no RV hookups or dump stations in the park.
In summer, reservations are strongly recommended. With the exception of trail camps, all reservations are site specific. They are available only through www.reserveamerica.com online (external link) or at 1-800-444-PARK (7275).
- Albee Creek Campground: Usually open May through mid-October, idyllic Albee Creek Campground is in an old homestead 5 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road. With 40 sites all or partly under second-growth redwoods or in a prairie, it’s near Rockefeller Forest and many hiking and mountain biking trails. Swimming is available 4 miles east in the South Fork of the Eel, and wading is available in either Bull Creek or Albee Creek. Early reservations are highly recommended as this is many visitors’ favorite campground.
- Burlington Campground: Open year-round, Burlington Campground is near the park’s visitor center on the Avenue of the Giants, 1.5 miles south of Weott. Its 57 sites are in a grove of old- and second-growth redwoods, a short distance from the South Fork of the Eel for fishing and swimming. A summer bridge across the river leads to hiking trails.
- Hidden Springs Campground: Usually open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Hidden Springs Campground’s 154 sites lie on a forested hillside 5 miles south of the visitor center on the Avenue of the Giants, just south of the town of Myers Flat. The South Fork of the Eel is a short walk away.
- Cuneo Horse Camp: For equestrians only, Cuneo Horse Camp offers access to many miles of riding. On a beautiful prairie at the base of a ridge, it has five family campsites, each with two corrals, and two group campsites. Group Site A accommodates 65 people and has 22 corrals, while Site B accommodates 25 people and has six corrals. There are fire rings, picnic tables, treated water, flush toilets and coin-operated hot showers. The turnoff is on the Mattole Road eight miles west of the Avenue of the Giants. Open mid-April to mid-October.
- Williams Grove Group Camp: Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Williams Grove Group Camp is in old-growth redwoods just one-half mile north of Myers Flat on the Avenue of the Giants. It has two adjacent group sites, one for 40 people and one for 60 people, which can be combined to accommodate 100. The sites have picnic tables, fire rings, and flush toilets. Campers are welcome to use the hot pay showers at nearby Burlington or Hidden Springs campgrounds. The South Fork Eel is just steps away, and a summer bridge provides access to miles of backcountry trails.
- Marin Garden Club Group Camp: Marin Garden Club Group Camp lies in a lovely redwood grove on the north end of the old town site of Weott. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, it has one group site for 40 people, for tent camping only. (Due to a limited turnaround area, RVs and trailers are not permitted.) The site has picnic tables, fire rings, and flush toilets. Campers are welcome to use the hot pay showers at nearby Burlington Campground.
- Trail Camps: For the visitor seeking a wilderness backpacking experience, Humboldt Redwoods offers five trail camps. They generally have bear boxes and pit toilets, but not always water. Hikers should inquire about water before departing and be sure to take a map. Dogs and other pets are not allowed on trails or at trail camps.
TRAILS: Humboldt Redwoods State Park has something for everyone on more than 100 miles of trails.
- Founder’s Grove Nature Loop (0.6 miles, 30 minutes, level): The self-guided Founders’ Grove Nature Loop features the Founders’ Tree, named in honor of the founders of Save the Redwoods League, and the Dyerville Giant, a 362-foot redwood that fell in 1991 and now provides nutrients to the forest. Start at Founders’ Grove parking area, Avenue of the Giants mile marker 20.5, 4.1 miles north of park headquarters. Brochures are available at the trailhead. For an interesting side trip that will more than double your mileage, take the turnoff to the Mahan Plaque Loop (about halfway around the Founders” Grove Loop). If you’re observant, you might spot the alabaster leaves of a 50-foot albino redwood along the way. It’s a parasite that grows out of the root collar of an adjacent tree. The Founders” Grove/Mahan Plaque hike is about a mile and a half away.
- Gould Grove Nature Trail (0.6 miles, 30 minutes, level): The short Gould Grove Nature Trail features 300-foot trees, evidence of early logging, and easy access to the river. It is ADA accessible and has interpretive signs. Start directly across the road from the visitor center at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 16.5.
- Drury-Chaney Loop (1.7 miles, 1.25 hours, level): Here at the north end of the park, cooler temperatures and more fog create a lush carpet of greenery under the lofty old-growth redwoods of the Drury-Chaney Loop. Start at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 43.9, just south of the town site of Pepperwood.
- Stephen’s Grove Loop (0.7 miles, 30 minutes, level): Stephen’s Grove was one of the first groves protected by the park. It served as a campground before the floods of 1955 and 1964, but was buried under layers of silt. Look closely as you walk the Stephen’s Grove Loop—can you find traces of old roadways and picnic tables? The redwood forest reclaims its territory quickly! Start at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 7.0, just north of the town of Miranda, 9.5 miles south of park headquarters.
- Rockefeller Loop (0.7 miles, 30 minutes, elevation change 20 feet): Rockefeller Loop explores the majestic Rockefeller Forest near the confluence of Bull Creek and the South Fork of the Eel River. Trees soaring to immense heights combine with an open understory to create a fairy-tale forest! Start 1.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on the Mattole Road, which breaks off at Avenue of the Giants mile marker 20.6, at Dyerville.
- Bull Creek Trail North (3.7 miles or about 2 hours each way; elevation change, 200 feet): Bull Creek Trail North is accessible year-round and offers a walk through the forest primeval—the largest old-growth redwood forest remaining in the world! Start either at Lower Bull Creek Flats (1.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road) or Big Trees (4.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road).
- Bull Creek Trail, North and South Loop (7.5 mile loop, about 4 hours, elevation change 500 feet): When summer bridges are installed, you can get a great look at the magnificent Rockefeller Forest by taking Bull Creek Trail North in one direction and Bull Creek Trail South in the other. Start at either Lower Bull Creek Flats (1.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road) or Big Trees (4.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road).
- River Trail, North Section (3.6 miles, about 2 hours one way, elevation change 300 feet): Following the west bank of the South Fork Eel River, the River Trail, North Section can be hiked out and back or as a one-way route with a shuttle. But it’s only accessible in the summer, when the bridges are installed. At the Garden Club of America Grove, River Trail South is temporarily closed due to bridges lost in the Canoe Creek fire of 2003. (The League is working to restore public access by 2018—check it out!) For River Trail North, start at either the Burlington summer bridge near park headquarters or at Lower Bull Creek Flats, 1.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.
- Johnson Prairie Trail, a.k.a Addie Johnson Trail (2.2 miles total, about 1.5 hours, elevation change 600 feet): The Johnson Prairie Trail (also know as the Addie Johnson Trail) is short, and gains elevation quickly. It takes you through the redwoods to Johnson Prairie, named for Addie and Tosaldo Johnson, who homesteaded here in the 1870s. Addie’s grave lies at the end of the trail. The prairie offers magnificent views of Grasshopper Peak. Start at an unmarked turnout 0.1 mile west of the Big Trees area, which is 4.2 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road. Return the way you came.
- Johnson Camp (10.5 miles round trip from Big Trees, 4 hours, elevation change 1,400 feet; or 12.9 miles from Grasshopper Multiuse Trail, 5 hours, elevation change 1,600 feet): The Johnson Camp Trail climbs through many interesting habitats, from an elevation of 200 feet in the redwood forest to 1,600 feet at Johnson Camp, where redwoods were made into railroad ties in the early 20th century. Several dilapidated cabins mark the site of this “tie-hackers” camp. If the summer bridge is installed at Big Trees (4.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road), cross and start at Bull Creek Trail South. If the bridge is not installed, go past Big Trees to mile 5.1 instead, and turn left toward Grasshopper Multiuse Trailhead. Head east on Bull Creek Trail South from there. The first option will save you 2.4 miles.
- Johnson Trail Loop (10.7 miles, 5 hours, elevation change 1,600 feet): Start Johnson Trail Loop at the Grasshopper Multiuse Trail (5.1 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road), take Bull Creek Trail South to Johnson Camp Trail. Return on the Grasshopper Multiuse Trail.
- Look Prairie Multi-use Trail to Peavine Ridge (7 miles round-trip, 4.5 hours, elevation change 2,200 feet), or, Look Prairie Multiuse Trail Loop (13.6 miles, 8 hours, elevation change 2,400 feet): From redwoods, 3.5-mile-long Look Prairie Multiuse Trail climbs to a prairie with stunning views and into a beautiful old-growth redwood and Douglas fir forest. For a 7-mile hike, you can turn around at Peavine Ridge. For an all-day hike with even more variety, turn left and walk 3.7 miles along the ridge on the Peavine Ridge Trail, then head downhill (south) on the Thornton Multiuse Trail. At Albee Creek Campground, head down the road and turn east on Homestead Trail, hiking 1.2 miles back to the start. For the longer hike, leave early and take plenty of water! For both, start at the base of the Look Prairie Multiuse Trail, 4 miles west of the Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.
- Grasshopper Peak (13.4 miles, 8 hours, elevation change 3,100 feet): Grasshopper Peak is the toughest hike in the park! The reward for the effort is a 100-mile view in all directions (at elevation 3,379 feet). Leave early in the day and take plenty of water. Start at Grasshopper Multi-use Trail, 5.1 miles west of Avenue of the Giants on Mattole Road.
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: At 362 feet, the fallen Dyerville Giant was once one of the tallest trees in the world. If you’d like to walk its length, take the 1.3 mile-long Founders’ Grove Trail, which was named for the founders of Save the Redwoods League, and lies about 4 miles north of the visitor center on the Dyerville Loop Road. One mile south of the Founders’ Grove is the Women’s Federation Grove, which features the “hearthstone,” a four-sided fireplace designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, as well as one of the best swimming holes in the park. Also, look for pink redwood lilies (also called chaparral lilies) and purple calypso orchids in the park in the spring.
HIDDEN GEM: Once you’re halfway around the Founders’ Grove Loop, take the turnoff to the Mahan Plaque Loop. If you’re lucky and observant, you might spot the alabaster leaves of a 50-foot albino redwood. It’s a parasite that grows out of the root collar of an adjacent tree. The Founder’s Grove/Mahan Plaque hike is about a mile and a half.
FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Visitor center and some campsites, restrooms, showers, picnic areas, trails.
DOGS: On leash in developed areas. Not on trails.
ENTRANCE FEE: $8 for day-use vehicle entry; no charge to walk or bike into the park.
- Humboldt Redwoods has a welcoming, information-rich visitor center. It’s open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving, with more limited hours in the off season, November through March. The visitor center is between Weott and Myers Flat on the Avenue of the Giants. Call the visitor center at 707-946-2263; park headquarters can be reached at 707-946-2409.
- The Humboldt Redwoods State Park brochure contains valuable information about cultural and natural history, as well as travel tips.
- More information about the park is available on the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association (external link) website. To order one of the association’s detailed topographical maps, send a $3 check or money order and your address to Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association, P.O. Box 276, Weott, CA 95571. The map is vital if you intend to do some backcountry hiking, biking, or horseback riding.
California’s Redwood Coast website (external site) offers resources to help plan your trip to Humboldt County.
- If you have an hour: Drive the 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants. Stop at the visitor center and admire the 300-foot-tall redwoods on the Gould Grove Nature Trail.
- If you have half a day: Take a drive on the Avenue and explore the lush forest on a 1.3-mile-long trail through Founder’s Grove. Walk along the fallen Dyerville Giant.
- If you have a full day: Drive the Avenue, stopping at the Federation of Women’s Clubs Hearthstone and Founders Grove in the morning. Somewhere along the way, take a dip in the South Fork of the Eel River (the excellent swimming hole near the hearthstone is one possibility). In the afternoon, explore Rockefeller Forest, part of the largest expanse of old-growth redwoods on the planet.
EAT: Christine Aralia, Land Project Manager, recommends eating at Cecil’s (external link) for New Orleans fare or having dinner at the Benbow Inn.
On the drive to the park, Regan Ranoa, Outreach Manager, loves to stop at Bluebird Cafe (external link) in Hopland (along 101 heading north to Mendocino or Humboldt) and order some pie.
Dave Stockton, who has worked at Humboldt Redwoods for decades, suggests eating at the Avenue Cafe (external link) in Miranda.
STOP: If you need a place to stop and rest your head, Christine suggests the Benbow Inn (external link).
FAVORITE PARK ATTRACTION: The Humboldt Redwoods Visitor Center (external link) or the Dyerville Giant.
DON’T MISS: Dave recommends the drive-through tree in Leggett.
Regan recommends exploring the Avenue of the Giants. Check out our 50 ways to celebrate the parkway!
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Acres Protected by the League: 50,962
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