Nestled in the wooded hills along the Sonoma coast within the ancestral land of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, there’s a hidden wonder that has remained intact for thousands of years — 730 acres of incredible forest known as Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve.
The trees on the Reserve are among the tallest and biggest ancient redwoods in Sonoma County, rising as high as a 32-story building. This complex forest is rich with wildlife and large ancient redwoods among younger healthy trees. In addition to the wildlife and the more than 1,450 ancient trees, the Reserve features tributaries to Haupt Creek, a fish-bearing stream and tributary of the Gualala River.
Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve is about three hours north of San Francisco. It is now protected forever and will one day open as a park for everyone to enjoy thanks to the generous supporters of Save the Redwoods League.
Vision of a New Redwood Park for All
Together with the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, the League is developing a public access plan for the Reserve, which will be the first new old-growth redwood park in a generation. Design is underway for park amenities that will provide for inclusive, inspirational recreational opportunities consistent with the conservation values of the forest and honoring the living culture of the Kashia. The grand opening is anticipated in 2026 and the Reserve will feature:
- Main entrance and trailhead with a picnic area and restrooms.
- Approximately 2.5 miles of hiking trails that lead visitors through the forest where the trees are 100 to more than 1000 years old. From the trails, visitors will also see large grassy meadows and numerous remarkable viewpoints.
- Thoughtfully designed and crafted interpretive exhibits, seating and gathering areas, a nature play area, and direct access to the oldest known tree south of Mendocino as well as to the middle of a circle of giant redwoods, known as a “fairy ring.”
Hike the Reserve
While we continue to plan and design for public recreational access, we are offering limited guided hikes at the Reserve. Visitors have the opportunity to join a League staff member on a 2-mile walk to enjoy the majestic old-growth forest and learn about the property’s ecology, history and future.
Reservations can be made here.
For questions about public access to the Reserve, please email [email protected].
Purchasing the Reserve
The Reserve exists today because generations of the Richardson family stewarded the ancient forest for nearly 100 years. When Harold Richardson passed away in 2016 at age 96, he left the special land to his heirs, who in turn worked with Save the Redwoods League to protect it for future generations.
Funding for the acquisition of the Reserve came from the generous support of League members, matching challenge grants from an anonymous donor and The Mattson Family Conservation Foundation, and from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
The Reserve is one of the flagship projects of Forever Forest: The Campaign for the Redwoods, a comprehensive campaign achieved by Save the Redwoods League in 2022 to garner support for the organization’s ambitious vision for the next century of redwoods conservation.
Science and Stewardship
The League Science and Stewardship teams, along with partners, are engaged in exciting projects to monitor and ensure the health of redwood ecosystems within the Reserve.
Regular surveys are ongoing for sensitive and endangered species that find habitat here, including the marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl.
Preparations are underway for the Reserve’s first prescribed burn in winter 2022-2023. Cultural burns have been practiced by Indigenous tribes for thousands of years to promote healthy and productive habitats. Prescribed burns follow this model and are an important tool to prevent severe wildfires.
Data collected before and after the upcoming burn will provide our science team with information on the impacts of the treatment work. Surveys will also be completed periodically over the years following the burn to identify potential fire following plant species and help us understand how the fire supports forest health overall.
Fun Facts about the Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve
- The Reserve is as large as Angel Island in San Francisco Bay (730 acres vs. 740 acres).
- The Reserve contains 319 trees over 250 feet tall, with many over 300 feet (as tall as a 30-story building). For comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet and the tallest known tree on the property is 322 feet.
- The oldest tree at the Reserve is more than 1,640 years old. It is 239 feet tall and its trunk is 19 feet wide – as wide as a two-lane road! This tree is the oldest known coast redwood south of Mendocino County, and it’s the largest diameter (widest) coast redwood south of Humboldt County.
- Many of the trees have goose pens, which are big hollowed-out openings at the trees’ bases caused by fires.
- This forest can sustain all manner of wildlife, including the imperiled northern spotted owl, the Townsend’s big-eared bat, salamanders and the imperiled marbled murrelet.
- Scientists study the trees and forest at the Reserve to learn how the coast redwoods respond to climate change.
- The Reserve will become the first old-growth redwood park in a generation!
- An excursion to the Reserve can be combined with other fun destinations nearby! Check out Jenner Headlands Preserve, Stillwater Cove Regional Park, Salt Point State Park and Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve, all within a 45-minute drive.