Redwood trees are the largest and longest living trees in the world, leaving everyone that walks amongst them with a sense of wonder and inspiration. While there are three types of redwood trees in the world, the coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) reach the greatest heights.
Most people probably think of northern California when they think of massive redwood trees, but there are many places within a short drive (think day trip) from the San Francisco Bay Area where you can get up close to these giants of the forest. So pack your car and head out to any one of these parks to see these incredible trees for yourself.
Only 30 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods is a great place to walk among old growth coast redwoods. This popular destination within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is federally protected as a National Monument. Muir Woods has 6 miles of hiking trails, with connections to neighboring Mount Tamalpais State Park. Before you go, make sure you make reservations.
Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, its biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 1,800 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, many babbling brooks, and a fascinating natural and cultural history. – CA State Parks
3. Portola Redwoods State Park
The road leading to the park’s 2,800 acres drops from a ridgetop into a deeply shaded redwood forest, offering a hushed getaway from the suburban bustle of nearby Silicon Valley and the South Bay Area. The visitor center, with its couches and fireplace, feels like a wilderness lodge. Eighteen miles of trails follow meandering creeks, where moisture-loving coast redwoods stand tall among ferns and huckleberries. Waterfalls on Fall and Pescadero creeks tumble down mossy banks over rocks and woody debris.
The park has a 55 site family campground, 4 group campsites and a trail camp for backpackers. It also protects some of the most remote and scenic redwoods in the region, the Peter’s Creek Grove. – CA State Parks
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is most famous for the 40-acre grove of towering old-growth redwood trees. Its historical significance and spectacular scenery draw travelers from around the world. Visitors can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, swimming, and camping on more than 4,650 acres of forested and open land. These skyscraping redwoods were admired by explorer John C. Frémont, President Theodore Roosevelt, and inspired some of California’s earliest redwood preservation efforts. Take a walk beyond the redwood grove and you’ll find four diverse habitats that this park preserves: grasslands, river/riparian, sandhills, and redwoods. The tallest tree in the park is approximately 277 feet tall, about 16 feet wide, and around 1,500 years old. Keen-eyed visitors may spot banana slugs, black-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, or steelhead trout. – CA State Parks
The park features 40 miles of hiking trails that wind through over 4,000 acres of canyons and uplands. Scattered throughout are patches of oak woodland, wet riparian, and sunny chaparral ecosystems. Among the diverse wildlife and plants in the park, hikers may spot woodpeckers, newts, and flowering calypso orchids in springtime. – CA State Parks
The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. It features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The higher elevation trails east of Highway 1 (currently closed) offer panoramic views of the sanctuary and miles of rugged coastline. – CA State Parks