Skip to content

Top 10 Redwood Trails 2022

Top 10 Redwood Trails

The Best Places to See Redwoods
in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Coast redwoods are simply magical. They awe us with their great heights, long lifespans, and ability to create a healthy forest habitat for all that live around them. Simply seeing a redwood tree in person can be a life changing experience and even improve our physical, mental, and social well being. The more we learn about redwoods, the more amazing they seem. But recent closures of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Butano State Park, the redwood forested section of Año Nuevo State Park, and the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail–for wildfire recovery and public safety– left many wondering where could they visit the enchanting redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains.

If you’ve been yearning to reunite with coast redwoods or to see one for the first time, look no further. We’ve gathered trails that feature old-growth redwoods, mature second-growth redwood groves, rare dwarf redwoods, and even rarer ghost redwoods all right here in the Santa Cruz mountains. Here are our Top 10 Redwood Trails for 2023 with the best places to see green redwoods now.

The 10 best trails in the Santa Cruz mountains to see all types of Redwoods, in order of difficulty from easy to strenuous.

5. Cathedral Redwoods, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4 miles out and back
What You’ll See/Highlights: Travel some of the trails less taken along the San Lorenzo River to a beautiful fairy circle of second-growth redwoods that look like nature's cathedral with an optional trip to Cable Car Beach. Since first advocating for the park's preservation in 1900, Sempervirens Fund has protected three more properties in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park area including redwood forests and magical fairy rings like these.
Trails: From behind the Visitors Center take Pipeline Road as it meanders along the San Lorenzo River. After you cross the river, take Rincon Fire Road. When you reach the three-way trail junction, take Big Rock Hole Trail on the right to reach Cathedral Grove. Retrace your steps to return or turn onto River Trail from Rincon Fire Road to visit Cable Car Beach. Then, continue on River Trail back to the Visitor’s Center. Map
More Info: Read more about what really makes redwood fairy rings so magical.

photo by Yuval Helfman

10. Peters Creek Loop, Portola Redwoods State Park

Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 11.9 mile out and back
What You’ll See/Highlights: Visit what’s been called one of the most rewarding trails in the Bay Area under the lavish canopies of second-growth redwoods and tanoaks to reach a remote and ancient grove of old-growth redwoods called Peters Grove. In the future, Peter's Creek Grove may become more accessible thanks to new lands Sempervirens Fund has protected. Until then, challenging climbs in and out–which likely protected these ancient trees from logging over a century ago–are the only way to experience what some have found to be the most awe-inspiring grove in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Trails: Take Old Tree Trail to Slate Creek Trail, turn left on Bear Creek Trail, loop around the grove, and backtrack to return. Map
More Info: Read about how to make Peters Creek Grove a backpacking trip.

photo by Wayne Hsieh

While the 2020 CZU fire closed some of our favorite parks and left an enormous amount of destruction and loss in its wake across the region, frequent low intensity fires have been a natural part of our ecosystem and many native plants have adapted with it. You can learn more about rare plants called “fire followers” and find trails in their habitats in the Santa Cruz mountains in our Wildflowers After Wildfire Guide or check out more activities in the Santa Cruz mountains below.

Stay Connected




Goal: $124,000 by June 30

Double your impact protecting redwoods! Every dollar counts towards safeguarding these majestic giants. Act now to ensure a thriving future for our redwood forests.

Match My Gift