It seems appropriate that the world’s tallest species of trees would largely find its home in California, one of the largest of the United States of America.
Redwood trees are some of the tallest and largest trees in the world. While there are three types of the trees in the world, sequoia and sequoiadendron are the type found in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. California is home to 31 redwood state and national parks. In California, there are even three live redwood trees that you can drive through: the Shrine Tree in Myers Flat on the Avenue of the Giants, the Chandelier Tree in Leggett and the Klamath Tree in Redwood National and State Parks. Below are 8 amazing places to see these outsized trees in California.
Redwood National and State Parks
Located in the northernmost coastal area of California, Redwood National and State Parks, which is made up of four parks, should be at the top of your redwoods itinerary. One of many highlights is the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, which meanders through old-growth redwood groves on an easy 2.4-kilometer hike to the spot where Lady Bird Johnson dedicated Redwood National Park in 1968. The trailhead is only 4 kilometers off Highway 101 near the town of Orrick.
The hiking trails in Redwood National and State Parks afford beautiful views of these towering trees.
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is only about 20 kilometers north of San Francisco, making it the most accessible park on this list and thereby the world’s most-visited redwood park. It’s one of the smaller redwoods parks, though it has a number of stunning hiking trails of varying distance and difficulty. Arrive early in the morning if you want to find a parking spot and beat the crowds.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
If you’re in San Francisco and have a full day to explore a redwood park, drive 105 kilometers south to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Established in 1902, it is the oldest state park in California and features more than 128 kilometers of trails that weave through coastal redwood forest. Unique to it is the surprising number of waterfalls that are found throughout the 7,284-hectare park. There are also a variety of camping options.
The oldest state park in California, Big Basin Redwoods State Park affords numerous scenic hiking opportunities.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Just southeast of Big Basin is Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, a smaller state park with 24 kilometers of hiking trails. The self-guided Redwood Grove Trail weaves through 91-meter-tall old-growth "virgin" redwoods, though you can often join guided walks on weekends.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, hop aboard the Roaring Camp Railroads’ tour through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Three hundred seventy kilometers north of San Francisco is Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to Rockefeller Forest, the world's largest remaining continuous old-growth forest of coastal redwoods. However, this state park is most known for the aptly named Avenue of the Giants, a scenic highway that includes three redwood trees you can actually drive through (yes, seriously).
Drive along the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This thoroughfare takes you around and even through massive coastal redwoods.
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve is one of the smaller, more remote California redwood parks. What it lacks in size, it makes up in stature of redwood trees, as one of the tallest redwoods can be found here, measuring more than 106-meters tall. It only has a few kilometers of trails, but is quite a bit more offbeat and less crowded than many of California’s redwood parks.
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve features redwoods standing more than 100 meters tall.
Hendy Woods State Park
Located in the middle of Anderson Valley’s wine country in Mendocino County, Hendy Woods State Park is noticeably warmer and less foggy than most California redwood parks. It features several kilometers of trails and a couple redwood groves, including Big Hendy, a 32-hectare redwood grove. The park also has a number of picnicking sites, several of which are near the banks of the Navarro River in full view of Big Hendy Grove.
Fog likely won’t obscure your views of the stunning redwood trees in Hendy Woods State Park.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is most known for being one of the best state parks in Big Sur along the Pacific Coast Highway, but it also features trails that stroll through redwood groves. Among the best day hikes is Ewoldsen Trail, which offers views of redwood groves and the Pacific Ocean.
Enjoy fantastic views of coastal redwoods and the rugged Pacific shoreline in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.