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A sandy single-track trail disappears into low flowering plants with the tops of pines peeking up in the distance, by Orenda Randuch

Santa Cruz Sandhills

Among redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains you can find a habitat so rare it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world: the Santa Cruz sandhills. Species uniquely adapted to its soil cling to their disappearing habitat long interwoven with redwoods. And you could be their best hope for survival. Explore the ancient rarities of sandhills and redwoods through the lens of photographer Orenda Randuch and learn more about the species and how you can help.

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Mushrooms of different sizes, shapes, and colors found at San Vicente Redwoods lie on a white sheet for mycologist Maya Elson to identify, by Orenda Randuch

Fungi of the Forest: Meet the Mushrooms of San Vicente Redwoods

Mycologist and researcher Maya Elson teamed up with photographer Orenda Randuch for a fungi photo essay to help us meet the mushrooms hard at work at San Vicente Redwoods. Learn identification tips to recognize mushrooms above ground, and their critical work underground to help the forest recover from fire, drought, flood, and human impacts in the fight against climate change.

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Looking up a sun-dappled, lush forested slope covered in redwoods, ferns, and mosses at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, by Orenda Randuch

2023 News: What You’ve Made Possible

Without supporters like you, fewer forests would be protected and habitats restored, and they would be less resilient to fires, floods, and the increasing threats from our changing climate. You have made so many amazing things happen this year for redwood forests, and the people, plants, and creatures that need them. Thank you for protecting forests that help protect us all! Here are a few of the moments you made possible in 2023.

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A branch of oak leaves changing from greenish-yellow to rusty orange hangs above a view a green canyon to the forested slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains beyond from Castle Rock State Park

Fall and Winter Hikes

As thermometers and leaves drop, crisp air and leaves beckon us outside to appreciate a different side of the Santa Cruz mountains’ wild beauty – colorful leaves, sparkling creeks, migrating birds, curious mushrooms, and of course banana slugs and elephant seals. If you’re looking for trails and places to enjoy the change of seasons this fall and winter, you’re in luck! Our staff are revealing their favorite places to go in the Santa Cruz mountains now.

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Back to (Nature) School

Whether it’s camping, hiking, going to the beach, or attending camp, connecting with nature doesn’t have to end with summer. In fact, it’s incredibly helpful to our physical, mental, and social health to maintain our connection to nature and experience it often. We spoke with outdoor educators at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History about resources to help us feed our curiosity and connection with nature.

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Family circles of coast redwood trees, their bark gray from the 2020 CZU fire but covered in the bright green fuzz of new growth, stand tall against a bright blue sky in Big Basin State Park in 2022

Big Basin Returns

In July 2022, Big Basin re-opened its gates, and as we see our way past the two-year anniversary of the CZU fire, people are visiting once more. We talked to staff and interns about their experiences and spoke with our director of conservation about our work at the park and at a newly acquired nearby property that may well have a role in the park’s future.

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Birds and Birding in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Have you considered birding or birdwatching? Not sure how you start? We spoke to international expert birding guide Alvaro Jaramillo who shares his expertise with an introduction to birds and how to get started birding in the Santa Cruz mountains. Read on for beautiful birds, when and where to find them, and how to identify them.

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Accessibility Guide Bob Coomber 4 Wheel Bob By Ian Bornarth

Accessibility in the Santa Cruz Mountains

We are showcasing accessible trails in the Santa Cruz mountains, and we talked with Bob Coomber–the renowned hiker “4 Wheel Bob”, lifelong admirer of redwoods, and member of the State Parks Recreational Trails Commission–to discuss his experiences with accessibility and how he has overcome challenges to explore the outdoors far beyond where the paved trail ends.

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Asia Rainbow Eucalyptus By Dirk HR Spennemann

10 Trees Around the World

We’ve gathered 10 of the most interesting trees from around the world and parks where you might meet them. We hope these trees help nurture appreciation for all that they do for us, wildlife, and the planet. If you’re ready to share your appreciation for trees and want to help spread the love, join us for our Hug-a-Tree Challenge on Earth Day, April 22, 2022 where you can help establish a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for the most photos of people hugging trees in one hour.

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Learn Redwoods And People Environmental Health

50 Trees in 50 States

We’ve created a list of 50 iconic trees from every state across the country along with a list of the top hikes in parks near you. If you are really excited about being in nature, join us for our first annual Hug-a-Tree Challenge on Earth Day, April 22, 2022 where you can join us as we attempt to establish a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for the most photos of people hugging trees in one hour.

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