Located just outside Santa Cruz, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is most famous for its massive old-growth redwood trees, some of which are 1,800 years old. The San Lorenzo River winds through the park’s landscape, which ranges from thick forest to chaparral and contains roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) of hiking trails.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park encompasses more than 4,650 acres (1,882 hectares) of wilderness and offers a peaceful escape from Santa Cruz, San Jose, or San Francisco. Popular activities in the park include hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, swimming, camping, and fishing. The park’s famous redwoods flank the San Lorenzo River, while farther north you can stroll through a green, fern-lined canyon.
To experience the area’s historic roots, hop on the Redwood Steam Train and enjoy a ride through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Railroad tours typically include admission to Roaring Camp in Felton, and allow you to learn about former logging camps and regional history from your conductor.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a must-see for nature and history lovers.
- Visitor facilities include a picnic area, visitor center, and bookstore.
- Remember to bring sun protection, comfortable walking shoes, and plenty of water.
- The weather can change throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers.
- The park’s Redwood Loop trail is fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, while some other trails are partially accessible.
How to Get There
Henry Cowell Redwoods is located in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, near the town of Felton on Highway 9. By road, it lies roughly 10 minutes from Santa Cruz, 40 minutes from San Jose, and 1.5 hours from San Francisco. Public transportation to the park is limited, but you can get there by taxi, rental car, or independent vehicle.
When to Get There
You can visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park year-round, although summer is the most popular—and warmest—time. To avoid crowds and still have a good chance of lovely weather, go in September or October. Catch and release fishing is allowed in the San Lorenzo River during the steelhead and salmon season, typically from November through February.
Must-See Attractions at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Explore the park’s 40-acre (16-hectare) old-growth redwood grove, which houses the famous hollowed-out Fremont Tree as well as the 0.8-mile (1.3-kilometer) Redwood Loop interpretive trail. On hot days, the Garden of Eden is a popular spot to cool off and swim in the San Lorenzo River.