Everyone in Santa Cruz knows the Redwood Grove Loop Trail in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: It’s where you take out-of-town guests for a short, easy Santa Cruz nature walk guaranteed to amaze. Towering old-growth coast redwoods, some of them 1800 years old, soar nearly 300 feet, blocking out the sun so virtually the only understory is redwood sorrel and lush, primitive ferns.
But the Redwood Grove Loop is just the beginning. The more time you spend in Henry Cowell, the more you may come to see it as the home of the best hiking in Santa Cruz County. (Horses and bikes are welcome but limited to certain routes.) A good 15 miles of trail traverse 1750 hugely diverse acres, dipping into fragrant riparian woodland and crossing creeks, climbing up through mixed evergreen forest and tracing routes through the rare Santa Cruz sandhills habitat with its stands of majestic Ponderosa pine and views of the Monterey Bay. Read more
A GREAT PLACE FOR camping, hiking, swimming, picnicking, birding, some biking and horseback riding. Dogs allowed on a limited basis. Fishing OK in season and with a license.
THE AUTHORITIES FROWN UPON riding bikes on all but paved or fire roads, letting Rover off the leash, riding horses on the four trails where they’re not allowed.
CREATURE COMFORTS: Flush toilets and drinking fountains at park headquarters. Drinking fountain at Observation Deck. Campground has coin-operated hot showers.
YOUR MOM WOULD TELL YOU TO watch out for poison oak and take plenty of water in summertime.
IF YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’LL be able to see all the way to Monterey from the Observation Deck and the Pipeline Road overlook.
Looking to camp at Henry Cowell State Park? Follow this link and let our friends at Hipcamp hook you up.
Redwood Grove Loop Trail
.8 miles; 30 min; easy
A mellow, wheelchair-accessible stroll beneath ancient redwoods gives you that old forest primeval feeling. Grab a self-guided brochure and look for the albino redwood.
Observation Deck Hike
4 miles; 2 hours; moderate (550 ft elev. gain)
This moderately challenging hike through rare sandhill habitat comes with a big reward: 360-degree views of mountains and sea.
2 miles; 1.25 hours; easy to moderate
Popular with locals, this trail follows the San Lorenzo River to a redwood-enclosed beach.
To Park Headquarters: From Santa Cruz drive north 6 miles on Hwy 9. Main entrance is on the right on the outskirts of Felton. Two dirt parking lots marked by yellow state parks signs lead to trailheads. Ox Trailhead is 1 mile south of main entrance; the Rincon Fire Road leading to Big Rock Hole is approx. 2 miles south of the main entrance. Map to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
From San Jose, follow Hwy 17 to the Mount Hermon exit in Scotts Valley. Continue on Mount Hermon through Scotts Valley until you reach Graham Hill Road in Felton; turn right, then turn left at Hwy 9 1/4 mile later. The entrance is about 1/2 mile down on your left.
To Campground Entrance: From Santa Cruz drive north on Graham Hill Road about 6 miles. Campground entrance is on the left about a mile after the Sims Road intersection.
From San Jose, follow Hwy 17 to the Mount Hermon exit in Scotts Valley. Continue on Mount Hermon through Scotts Valley until you reach Graham Hill Road in Felton; turn left and follow Graham Hill Road about 2 miles south. Campground entrance is on the right.
100 N Big Trees Park Rd, Felton, CA, 95018. 831.335.4598. Learn more at the official Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park website.