When tourists come to the San Jose area one site they often want to see is the majestic redwood trees. The best known grove in the San Francisco Bay area is Muir woods just north of San Francisco. Muir woods are indeed a beautiful site but are also clogged with tour buses and loads of tourists. South of San Jose in the Santa Cruz mountains near the sleepy town of Felton is a better place to see towering trees without the crowds – Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
The best feature known of the park is the .8 mile short nature trail that winds through the old-growth redwood trees which is flat and wheel chair accessible. We took my grandmother on this walk when she was in her 80s. The walk winds through the oldest trees in the park. The tallest tree in the park is 285 feet tall although at least one tree, the neck breaker, was much taller before losing its top in a storm. Because the lowest branch of a redwood tree may be 100 feet above the forrest floor the forrest has a very different look than most evergreen forests.
For people who want a more serious hike there are 20 miles of trails in the park, many of which are not 80 year old grandmother friendly. Dogs are also welcome in the park on both the Meadow Trail and the Graham Hill Trail but must be kept on a leash. Click for A map to the park.
Campsites are also available in the park. Reservations for camping in all California State Parks can be made by phoning ReserveAmerica at 1-800-444-PARK or visiting the reservation webpage.
The park is also located next to the Roaring Camp steam railroad and visitors can walk from one parking lot to the other.
The park is near Felton on Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Traveling from San Jose to the main entrance: Take Highway 17 toward Santa Cruz. After you go over the mountains, turn right on Mt. Hermon Road. Follow Mt. Hermon road until it ends at Graham Hill Road. Turn right, and go to the next stop light (Highway 9). Turn left on Highway 9 and go through downtown Felton. The park entrance will be a half mile down on your left. You can park outside and walk a half mile into the park, or you can drive in and pay a fee.