If you’re like so many San Francisco Bay Area residents, nearby Muir Woods National Monument is your go-to place for a redwood-forest experience. But did you know about these 16 redwood parks within a one-hour drive of San Francisco?
The Forest of Nisene Marks, only 5 miles northeast of Santa Cruz, is wild and expansive. The property was clearcut in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. But it’s recovering nicely-and offers hikers and mountain bikers a chance to explore 30 miles of trails that rise from near sea level to 2,600 feet.
South of San Francisco, halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, Butano State Park surprises almost every first-time visitor. A short drive from beaches along Highway 1, you’ll find yourself awed by mossy Douglas-firs, bigleaf maples, sword ferns and, through April, blooming calypso orchids. The redwoods are mostly second growth, but careful explorers can find some ancient ones, too.
Nestled in the deep folds of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin is the oldest state park in California. It includes more than 18,000 acres of redwood forest, including the largest ancient stand south of San Francisco. About 10 percent of the park won protection with the help of Save the Redwoods League.
Just 5 miles north of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Portola Redwoods State Park offers visitors solitude and some of the tallest, most majestic redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The park centers on two creeks, Peters and Pescadero. Save the Redwoods League has helped win protection for 800 of the park’s 2,800 acres.
A town called Taylorville grew up around his mill, which devoured a lush stand of redwoods. But some groves were spared, and you can see them today in 2,800-acre Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Redwoods and firs grow along Lagunitas Creek and its north-facing slopes, while chaparral and grassy meadows dominate the south-facing side of the canyon.