Camp At Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
If you enjoy camping, youll love staying at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground. This part of the park has its own separate entrance and easily accessible hiking trails off Graham Hill Rd.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground features 107 wooded campsites nestled amongst pine and oak trees proving plenty of shade and privacy. These campsites are quite large and come equipped with picnic-style tables, storage lockers, and grills for cooking or enjoying a firepit at night.
Campsites can be booked on Reserve California under Henry Cowell Redwoods SP.
How To Get Tohenry Cowell Redwoods
If you’re coming from the east, you can reach Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park by following Mount Herman Road until you reach Graham Hill Road. Make a left and continue about 2.5 miles you will see the entrance to your right. If you are not going to the campground, you can use one of the other two vehicle entrances. If you’re coming from south of downtown Felton, take Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. If you’re coming from Highway 17, take the Mount Hermon Road exit and follow signs to Highway 9 through downtown Felton the entrance will be on the left.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Henry Cowell is a must. Locals and visitors alike love the beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Henry Cowell has it all. For hikes with the pup, use the main park entrance off Highway 9 and access the Pipeline Trail.
This 6 mile out-and-back hike is on a paved road that travels through redwood trees, follows along the San Lorenzo River, and even passes under an active train trestle !
Read the entire Santa Cruz County hiking blog here.
Recommended Reading: Free Camping Near Brookings Oregon
Top Things To Do At Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a beautiful redwoods forest near Santa Cruz that spans across 4650 acres of protected wilderness lands. A trip to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a great outdoor escape all year long!
This State Park is home to some of the oldest and tallest redwood tree species in the world that will simply leave you in awe. The top attractions of the park are located just a short drive from downtown Felton offering easy and convenient access to incredible trails and nature.
In this post, we cover 9 of the best things to see & do at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and many other helpful visitor tips. Lets dive in!
What You Need To Know Before You Go To Cowell Redwoods State Park
- Henry Cowell is a favorite place for many Santa Cruz and San Francisco Bay Area residents and the only serious complaint they have is about the poison oak. That’s made worse by the state park policy to preserve the natural environment to the best of their ability. In other words, they don’t try to get rid of it. If you don’t know what it looks like, take the time to read the sign near the entrance, which shows photos of it in all seasons. Or here’s a good resource about how to identify and avoid it.
- Alcohol is allowed in the campground, as long as the person drinking it is of legal drinking age. You can smoke at your campsite or on the paved road, but not on the hiking trails.
- Sites are open seasonally and the campground closes in the winter.
- Dogs are allowed in the picnic area, the campground, and on Pipeline Road, Graham Hill Trail, and Meadow Trail. You can’t take them on any other trails or interior roads.
- Reservations are a necessity on weekends and during the summer. You need to make them as much as 6 months in advance, and you need to be ready to jump on them when the reservation window opens. Learn about how to make California state park reservations.
- Henry Cowell is only one of the places you can go camping near Santa Cruz. You can find more places to camp near the beach, more places to camp near town and some campgrounds in the nearby mountains if you use this guide to camping at Santa Cruz.
Recommended Reading: Secret Camping Spots In Southern California
Santa Cruz Redwoods Rv Resort
If youre looking to spend a few days RV camping in Felton, weve got the perfect place for you! The Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is a great alternative to standard State Park camping that offers amazing amenities for its guests.
The Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is in the prime location to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park as well as the main attractions of Felton. Here RV Resort guests can enjoy conveniences like a Clubhouse, firepits, bathrooms with hot showers, and full hook-up RV sites.
Take your pick from standard RV camping sites for $80 a day, or if youre up for a splurge, the river view sites go for $125 a day. Each of the full hook-up sites includes water, sewer, electric, and cable.
Here are the top 9 things to do at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park!
Portola Redwoods State Park
Nestled in the hills of San Mateo County is Portola Redwoods State Park, on the traditional lands of the Muwekma, Quiroste, and Ohlone peoples. The park offers 53 campsites , as well as two group campsites that can accommodate 25 and 50 people. There are six backpacker sites via a 3-mile out-and-back trail.
As of September 2021, the campground was closed for the season, and reservations typically open up around December. Backpacker sites are available until early November , and day-use areas are open year-round.
Portola Redwoods has a picnic area, a seasonal swimming hole, and many hiking trails. The park is also home to lots of wildlife like banana slugs, bobcats, black-tailed deer, gray foxes, and marbled murrelets. Coho salmon and steelhead trout can be seen spawning in late summer through the fall.
- Sequoia Nature Trail: Less than a mile, a self-guided tour ends among amazing coast redwoods. There is a seasonal bridge to cross Pescadero Creek .
- Dog Trail: Leashed dogs are allowed. Less than 2 miles, this trail takes you along Peters Creek and through a redwood forest.
- Pescadero State Beach: A great beach for kids to play on and amazing sunsets.
- Swanton Berry Farm: Grab a slice of strawberry shortcake or one of the many jellies offered. A seasonal farm stand is also available.
Also Check: Rv Camping Near Grand Junction Co
Roam Around The Roaring Camp
The Roaring Camp is a great place for a family outing. This is one of the top attractions in Felton where you can roam through a western-style town consisting of a train depot, general store, picnic areas, and other interesting historical buildings.
Here you can check out and peek inside a recreation of a Sheriffs Office and a Print Shop that houses one of the few Linotypes still around. If hunger strikes, you can grab a hot dog or burger at the Food & Drink area and enjoy a relaxing lunch at one of the outdoor picnic-style tables.
One of the most noteworthy attractions of this charming town is the Roaring Camp Covered Bridge that serves as an entryway into the town. At 36 feet in length, this is the shortest covered bridge in the United States.
Roaring Camp is located right next to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park so you can combine a visit to both on the same day.
Who Was Henry Cowell
A notoriously private persona, Henry Cowell was an integral part of the California state park creation. He and his brother John left their hometown of Wrentham, Massachusetts in 1849, right when the lure of gold was drawing people to the Golden State. John returned to Wrentham shortly after, while Henry began a successful drayage business at only 30 years old. His knowledge obtained from a business-savvy wealthy family paid off, and soon, his empire grew to include property from San Luis Obispo to Washington State.
Flash forward to 1950, when there was only one member of the Cowell family left, Samuel Harry Cowell, who was almost ninety years old. An avid outdoorsman, Harry was especially fond of the familys property next to the Welch Grovethe one Andrew P. Hill was denied access to. In 1952, he acquired the grove and named it in memory of his father, Henry. Since the grove was already given to the state, Cowells representatives met with the officials, underwent lengthy negotiations, and were eventually successful. Thus, on August 18, 1954, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park formerly opened as a California State Park.
Recommended Reading: Rv Camping Rapid City Sd
What Facilities Are There At Cowell Redwoods State Park
The campground has real restrooms with flush toilets and coin-operated showers. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring, but no water spigot. You can buy firewood at the park.
The park has no sewer or water hookups. Bring a container to carry water to your site. The two closest state parks that have an RV dump and water fill station are Big Basin State Park and New Brighton State Beach.
Enjoy Views From Redwoods Observation Deck
The Redwoods Observation Deck is the highest point in the park overlooking Monterey Bay and the surrounding mountain peaks. This Observation Deck is located near the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground and can be easily reached via a 0.5-mile-long trail.
What sets this area apart from the rest of the park are the unique sandhills and the rare ecosystems that can be found here. The Observation Deck is situated 805 feet above sea level within a sandhills plant community that cant be found anywhere else in the world.
From the top of the deck, you might spot Acorn Woodpeckers creating holes in the surrounding trees for storing acorns in the winter or peep through the magnifying glass at the coastline in the distance. There are also several picnic-style tables that you can enjoy for a relaxing lunch break.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a wonderful destination in Central California that offers incredible hiking trails and the opportunity to walk amongst some of the tallest and oldest coastal redwoods.
Looking for more things to do around the Central Coast? Check out these posts next:
Read Also: Humboldt Redwoods State Park Camping
Samuel P Taylor State Park
Samuel P. Taylor State Park is in the small town of Lagunitas. On the traditional lands of the Coast Miwok, this park offers a campground, old-growth redwood forest, birding, hiking trails, a seasonal swimming hole, and bike paths. The campground has 58 sites and also offers cabins and group sites. Sites are available year-round.
- Pioneer Trail: A 2.7-mile trail through an old-growth redwood forest.
- Devils Gulch: A 2.3-mile out-and-back trail that ends at a seasonal waterfall. Theres a massive redwood tree along the trail.
- Point Reyes National Seashore: Observe tule elks in meadows or visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse to look for whales.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Camping
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park has one of the prettiest campgrounds in the Santa Cruz area, sheltered under the trees. The surroundings are spectacular, but those sheltering trees are oaks and pines. But don’t worry, the redwoods are nearby, the largest of them standing 277 feet tall and measuring 16 feet wide.
Lots of hiking trails leave from the campground. In fact, it has access to almost 20 miles of them, and that’s the major activity for people who stay here. On those trails, you can explore forests of old growth redwood trees and four distinct ecosystems. You might even come across a bright yellow banana slug or a bobcat.
You May Like: Mountain & River Adventures Rafting & Camping
Are The Redwoods Open For Camping
Even though the campsite at Del Norte Redwoods State Park is open, drivers can expect two-hour delays on the road to get there. Reservations are accepted at both of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks campsites year-round. ReserveCalifornia is the website to use if you want to make a camping reservation.
Can You Have Campfires At Henry Cowell State Park
Camping, bicycling, smoking, and campfires are all forbidden in the Fall Creek section of the National Park Service. In addition to the picnic spots and campsites, dogs are permitted on the Meadow Trail, Pipeline Road, Graham Hill Trail, and Powder Mill Fire Road, as well as the Powder Mill Fire Road.
Don’t Miss: Free Camping Near Monterey Ca
A Few Essential Items For Camping
Remember to include the following as you pack for camping:
- Insect repellent
- Water bottle or hiking reservoir
- A hat or sunglasses
- Trail map. Most maps are offered digitally now download them on your phone because you may not have a signal in many parks. Paper maps are usually located at park entrances or visitor centers.
All About The History Of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
To understand the significance of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, lets journey back to 1899 when Californias redwood trees became internationally famous. That year, an English publication hired Andrew P. Hillan artist, photographer, and author from San Joseto write a story about the massive beauties of the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. Hill packed his equipment and set out on a journey to Felton, where he found the perfect subjects for his magazine piece. These magnificent virgin redwoods reached a whopping 300 feet in height, but before Hill could do anything to capture their striking glory, a man by the name of Joseph Welch came and chased him off.
Recommended Reading: Natural Way To Keep Bugs Away When Camping
A Bit Of Henry Cowell History
The areas now described as Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park were Rancheros in the 1830s and 1840s. Various landowners have purchased parts of the Rancheros throughout history. In 1867 Joseph Warren Welch purchased 350 acres containing the forty-acre stand of virgin redwood now part of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Who was Henry Cowell?Henry Cowell arrived in Santa Cruz area in 1865 and bought half of the shares of the Santa Cruz limestone business from Albion Jordan for $100,000.
He developed lime quarries at Rincon and Fall Creek. The limestone were an excellent grade and available where there were large quantities of fuel for the kilns. During the years of highest demand, 80% of the statewide need for lime was supplied by Santa Cruz County.
The California State Parks website has much more information.
Visiting Henry Cowell Redwoods
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 Californias earliest redwood preservation efforts. Take a walk beyond the redwood grove and youll 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.
A few miles north is the Fall CreekUnit a second-growth redwood forest with a fern-lined river canyon and remnants of a successful lime-processing industry. Fall Creek is open for day use only, and includes almost twenty miles of connecting trails. Parking and trailheads are marked on Felton Empire Road off Highway 9.
Read Also: Best Car Camping Near Denver
Redwood Grove Loop Trail
Renowned among Henry Cowell State Park hikers, Redwood Grove is nearly a mile-long wondrous journey through a typical old-growth forest. The trail shares stage with the Roaring Camp Railroads and the silence of the redwoods is occasionally pierced by the loud hoots of steam trains. Your trek is going to feel remarkably cool and lush, with a groundcover of ferns and redwood sorrel, and a peaceful silence that comes from all the sound-dampening foliage.
Inside Henry Cowell Redwoods
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is more than a campground its historical significance and stunning scenery draw travelers from all around the globe. You can first stop by the visitor center where you can learn more about the state park preserves, redwood trees, trails, and wildlife. Then, take a walk beyond the redwood grove and observe the four diverse habitats. This state park also features several hiking trails, roads with bike paths, and multiple picnic areas. There is even a swimming hole called the Garden of Eden located in the Cowell Redwoods.
Also Check: Camping World New Braunfels Phone Number
How Much Does It Cost To Drive Through A Redwood Tree
A drive-through redwood, the Chandelier Tree is one of three remaining drive-through redwoods in Northern California. The other two are the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree, 45 miles north of Leggett in Myers Flat, and the Klamath Tour-Thru Tree, 150 miles north of Leggett in Klamath. Youll have to spend roughly $5 to drive through each tree, on average.
Can You Boondock In Redwood National Park
In the event that you prefer dry camping or boondocking, the park has four campsites that can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 36 feet in length and trailers up to 31 feet in length. The Jedidiah Smith, Mill Creek, and Elk Prairie Campgrounds are the best places to camp if you want to be right in the center of the forest.
Also Check: Tent Camping In Laughlin Nv
Show Me Californiacom Recommended Businesses Near
Learn more about our selection criteria and vetting process.
Welch refused to let any commercial photographs be taken of his redwoods unless they offered to pay, leaving Hill no choice but to return to San Jose without any visuals to complete his article. The fact that the general public was unable to experience these beauties just didnt sit right with Hill. His frustrations would soon be answered when a man by the name of Henry Cowell entered the picture.