Bay Nature magazineJuly-September 2018


Where to Find Redwoods Close to Home in the Bay Area

Explore coast redwoods or giant sequoia anywhere in California and Oregon with the Save the Redwoods League’s new mobile-friendly web tool for a comprehensive list of parks, planning tips, and new ideas:

Old-growth Redwoods Without the Crowds: Roy’s Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Marin County Parks

  • Trails: From 0.75 of a mile to about 3 miles.
  • Park size: 293 acres.
  • The draw: The less visited and more secluded Muir Woods, a half hour from the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Access: Horses, dogs on leash, mountain bikes; hikers only on some trails.
  • Nearby: Maurice Thorner Memorial Open Space Preserve, French Ranch Open Space Preserve.
  • Cost: Free

A sanctuary just steps from the road, Roy’s Redwoods Preserve is a study in Northern California habitats including an old-growth coast redwood grove, framed by an active creek that passes through madrone, manzanita, and bay and Douglas fir forests, and grassy hillsides replete with coyote brush. Here you can stand in the shadow of some of the largest redwoods in Marin with free parking and infrequent crowds. The 293-acre preserve includes overlooks of San Geronimo Valley and offers a mix of shaded paths and sweeping views, an ideal day-hike or picnic spot for families with small children.

From the main trailhead off Nicasio Valley Road, follow the Meadow Trail straight ahead and watch for sapsuckers whose tiny drill holes dot the bay trees along the path. Continue walking and you’ll reach a “fairy ring” of 500-year-old redwoods, the interconnected trunks of which have become a favorite spot for small groups to gather or the lone hiker to sprawl out and admire the forest canopy 200 feet above.

—Becca Fanning

Quiet, Cool Redwoods and Creeks: Portola Redwoods State Park

California State Parks

  • Trails: 18 miles altogether.
  • Park size: 2,800 acres.
  • The draw: A shady, peaceful escape an hour west of San Jose.
  • Access: No bikes, dogs, or horses allowed on hiking trails. Swimming. Camping.
  • Nearby: Peters Creek; Pescadero Creek County Park.
  • Cost: $10 vehicle day-use fee

A quiet, well-shaded state park that is home to two creeks, two waterfalls, and a rich, expansive redwood forest. Hiking trails range from the 0.75-mile Sequoia Nature Trail, where numbered signposts explain the redwood forest ecology, to a strenuous 12-mile loop to Peters Creek—a forest owned by Save the Redwoods League that protects two of the region’s very oldest redwood trees. Beneath the redwoods grow dense huckleberry bushes, fern groves, and tall tanoak. This forest’s bird population includes Oregon juncos, acorn woodpeckers, and chestnut-backed chickadees. If you listen carefully, you might hear the keer-keer call of the elusive marbled murrelet.

—Brittany Shoot

Resilience in an Urban Setting: Joaquin Miller Park

Oakland Parks

  • Trails: Sinawik Loop (about 1 mile) and Big Trees Trail (about 2 miles) for redwoods.
  • Park size: 500 acres.
  • The draw: Redwood groves, rare plants, and waterfalls within Oakland’s city limits.
  • Access: Dogs on leash, mountain bikes, horses.
  • Nearby: Redwood Regional Park.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Transit: Take the 339 AC bus line from the Fruitvale BART station to the Chabot Space and Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland)

City parks, bus routes, and easy access. If these words don’t call to mind hundred-year-old redwood trees, dense forests and rare wildflowers, then you’ve never visited Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park. This city-run park is a study in resilience and a testament to the staying power of the endangered coast redwood.

To visit this thriving coast redwood grove just a mile from the freeway, begin at the ranger station, where a small museum offers a native bug display and details about the park’s flora, fauna, and geography. Wander through the serpentine meadow, where purple needlegrass and the California golden poppy thrive in their home soil, and catch a glimpse of your first redwood before continuing to the Palos Colorados Trail and then the Big Trees Trail, which deposits you in an ivy-covered grove of second- and third-growth coast redwoods. As you hike, look out for kiosks, a collaboration between Save the Redwoods League and the City of Oakland, which give information on the secrets contained in tree rings, the history of the League, and the importance of protecting these native giants.

—Becca Fanning

About the Authors

Brittany Shoot is a San Francisco–based writer covering everything from culture and travel to the environment.

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