The Eel River winds through the more than 1,000-acre park for almost 2 miles
Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area brochure
HIGHLIGHTS: Some head to Standish-Hickey to hike in its towering redwood forest; others come to leap into a sun-drenched swimming hole in the Wild and Scenic Eel River; still others arrive to relax and recharge in the historic Redwood Campground. A 180-mile drive from San Francisco, Standish-Hickey lies right along Highway 101, 1.5 miles north of the town of Leggett. The park is now the southern gateway to the world-famous redwood belt along California’s North Coast. The park began as a 40-acre campground donated in 1922. Its name honors a lumberman’s son, Edward Ritter Hickey, who died while caring for victims of the 1918 flu epidemic. In the late 1950s, descendants of Captain Miles Standish, a pilgrim who landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620, added 500 acres. Subsequent donations from the League have expanded the park to more than 1,000 acres.
ACTIVITIES: Camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing and swimming.
- At the base of rocky outcrops, the South Fork of the Eel River has one of the best swimming holes in the state. Deep and sunny, it’s a pleasant place to relax on hot summer days. Check at the park entrance to see if blue-green algae toxins are at dangerous levels.
Just for Kids
- Most of the park’s ranger- or docent-led programs (including campfire talks, forest walks, and Junior Ranger programs) start on Memorial Day weekend and end after Labor Day. Check the schedule for days and times. Aimed at kids age 7 through 12, these programs offer games, crafts, hiking, and exploring with other children.
- Before you leave home, download a copy of California State Parks Adventure Guide (external link). Or call 916-653-8959 to order a copy.
- Explore the Redwoods Learning Center. It offers fun, redwood-themed activities, classroom tools, and ways to get involved in redwood protection. Redwoods bingo, anyone?
VISITOR CENTER: The visitor center is at The Peg House (external link), a popular restaurant and grocery store across from the park entrance on the east side of Highway 101. It’s open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. in summer.
CAMPING: Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area has 99 campsites accessible all year. Another 63 are available during the summer after a seasonal bridge is installed. One site is set aside for bicyclists and hikers without cars. RVs up to 31 feet in specified campsites in two upper campground loops. No RVs or trailers allowed in Redwood Loop.
For camping reservations and more information, call 800-444-7275 or visit reserveamerica.com (external link).
TRAILS: Standish-Hickey has 10 miles of trails, offering scenic forest and river views. The Taber Loop is accessible all year long. The Big Tree Trail and Mill Creek loops involve river crossings. Seasonal bridges make that easy in summer; difficult in winter.
- Taber Nature Trail (aka “Grove Trail,” 1.7-mile loop): Taber Nature Trail is an easy, self-guided loop that takes you past a modest upland grove of old-growth redwoods. The well-marked trailhead is on the east side of Highway 101. It’s the second dirt road, a few yards north of the park entrance.
- Big Tree Trail (2-mile loop): Big Tree Trail leads to the park’s tallest tree, the Captain Miles Standish (225 feet tall, 13 feet in diameter). It offers outstanding views of the South Fork of the Eel River. The trail starts at Redwood Campground.
- Mill Creek Loop Trail (6-mile loop): The Mill Creek Loop Trail offers a view of Big Tree Meadow and a close-up look at the Miles Standish Tree (225 feet tall, 13 feet in diameter).
SEASONAL HIGHLIGHTS: Visitors from around the world come to enjoy the park’s famed swimming hole. Its blue-green water and sandy beach are irresistible in the summer sun. The Eel River sustains coho and chinook salmon, and California’s largest run of spring steelhead. Bald eagles, peregrines, herons and egrets find habitat along the river.
HIDDEN GEM: The self-guided 1.7-mile Taber Nature Trail on the east side of Highway 101 wends through giant redwoods and fern-filled ravines.
FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: One campsite, restroom with shower, Taber Nature Trail.
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.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
- For more information about Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area, call the entry station kiosk at 707-925-6482.
- The park’s brochure offers information on the park’s natural and cultural history as well as tips for planning your visit.
- Other good sources are Mendocino Area Parks Association (MAPA) (external link) and the Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area website (external link).
- If you have an hour, follow the Taber Nature Trail (also known as the Grove Trail) to the old-growth redwoods in Memorial Grove.
- If you have half a day, try the Big Tree Trail, which leads to the park’s tallest redwood, the Captain Miles Standish Tree. If you’re hot, cool off in the river.
- If you have a full day, set up camp and head out for a long morning hike on the Mill Creek Loop. In winter, you may be able to try catch-and-release fishing for salmon or steelhead. In summer, go for a swim.
EAT: The Peg House is stocked with everything a camper could need, including beer, wine, food, gifts and even a mini-library. The hamburgers, salmon burgers and wild blackberry sundaes are not to be missed. There’s live music in summer.
DON’T MISS: Smyth Grove on Highway 101, 1.5 miles north of Standish Hickey, features a popular day-use swimming hole on the Eel River, set amidst giant redwoods. The Avenue of the Giants, about 23 miles north of the park, is a stunning 31-mile drive through the largest stands of virgin redwoods in the world.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Park Champions (external link), a program of the California State Parks Foundation, holds volunteer work parties every year.
- Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods: Cultural History of the Lower Russion River
- LandPaths: Intro to Backpacking Camp for Teens
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Acres Protected by the League: 619
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