Rocky Ridge expands stunning Mendocino redwood park

Land transfer to California State Parks opens up new trails, sweeping views

A large rock outcropping overlooks a forest of mature redwood trees
Rocky Ridge’s namesake rock outcropping provides a new perspective on the old-growth redwoods of Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. Photo by M3 Creative.

They say good things come to those who wait. Case in point: Rocky Ridge, the first League-conserved property to be added to California State Parks in well over a decade.

Last month, the state park system formally accepted ownership of this unique 80-acre parcel, home to old-growth redwoods, towering Douglas-firs, and a large rock outcropping that offers nesting habitat for majestic peregrine falcons. Rocky Ridge also encompasses the headwaters of Montgomery Creek, which meanders through the adjacent 2,743-acre Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, one of Mendocino County’s finest redwood parks.

Adding Rocky Ridge to the reserve will create a seamless protected habitat for endangered salmon and other wildlife, help buffer the reserve’s ancient giants, and provide the opportunity to expand the trail network to the ridgeline, with its sweeping views of the old-growth canopy. 

Turquoise waters of a creek stair-step through a shaded forest of green ferns and ancient redwoods
Rocky Ridge encompasses the headwaters of Montgomery Creek, a salmon-bearing stream that meanders through the ancient redwood groves of the adjacent Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. Photo by Ken Susman.

Rocky Ridge is the latest puzzle piece to fall into place in the Montgomery Woods Initiative—a multistage project designed to revitalize the visitor experience at Montgomery Woods and safeguard the reserve’s cathedral-like redwood groves. League efforts have focused on securing a greenbelt of land adjacent to the reserve, starting with the purchase of 453-acre Atkins Place in 2022.

Last August, the League secured a conservation easement on the nearby Weger Ranch, ensuring the 3,862-acre property’s coast redwood and Douglas-fir forest will be forever protected from subdivision, extensive development, and excessive logging. The deal included an exciting plan to add the Rocky Ridge portion of the property to Montgomery Woods.  

“As we worked with the Weger Family on the conservation easement, it soon became apparent that this important piece of land belonged with the reserve,” says Adrianna Andreucci, League land protection manager. “This rocky precipice, with its peregrine falcons soaring among ancient old-growth redwoods, matches the majesty of the reserve. It deserves to be shared with the public.”  

people crossing wooden bridge down trail in redwood forest
The addition of Rocky Ridge opens up opportunities to expand the existing Montgomery Woods trail network from the valley floor up to the ridgeline. Photo by Max Forster @maxforsterphotography.

The Rocky Ridge transfer is part of a promising new trend that has seen California State Parks acquire more conserved properties despite long-standing budget and staffing constraints. Just last August, the state purchased six properties from Sempervirens Fund, contributing to the permanent expansion of Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Such transfers are essential to Save the Redwood League’s mission to secure permanent protection for redwood landscapes, with tens of thousands of acres transferred to the park system since 1927.

Consistent funding for California State Parks is crucial for future transfers—and is one of the many reasons the League is calling for a $15 billion climate resilience bond to be placed on California’s November ballot.  

“We’re so excited to work with California State Parks whenever we can on these projects,” says Andreucci. “It’s the best outcome when these forests can be protected and shared with the public. And that’s why it’s so important that the state gets the support it needs to secure these vital acquisitions.”  

Read more highlights from the Spring-Summer 2024 Edition online.

About the author

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has protected and restored redwood forests and connected people with their peace and beauty so these wonders of the natural world flourish.

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