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Montgomery Woods State Reserve

Montgomery Woods Trail

2 mile loop

Redwood admirers know Montgomery Woods State Preserve as a little gem with big trees: 300-foot tall giants in a series of impressive memorial groves. The reserve’s location (the most geographically isolated of California’s redwood state parks) makes a visit here seem all the more special.

Getting to the remote park, hidden away along the headwaters of Big River in the Coast Range of Mendocino County, can be an adventure in itself. Curvy two-lanes lead from the coast and Ukiah over oak-dotted rolling hills and past Orr Hot Springs, an off-the-beaten-path, rustic hot springs resort.

Thanks to the efforts of the Save-the-Redwood League, the reserve has expanded greatly from an initial nine acres donated in 1945 to some 1323 acres today.

A tranquil trail links the reserve’s five memorial groves that tower above Montgomery Creek. The path gives hikers up-close looks at the grand stands, whose trees are not only tall, but broad (up to 14 feet in diameter), as well.

Montgomery Woods is known as a climax forest, where a small congregation of understory plants gathered around the redwoods lives in a harmonious, fairly stable environment. Beneath the redwoods, ferns, wild iris, miners lettuce, poison oak and redwood sorrel flourish.

Directions to trailhead: From Highway 101 just north of Ukiah, exit on North State Street and head briefly north (away from downtown) to Orr Springs Road. Turn west and travel 13.5 miles to Montgomery Woods State Reserve. Look for the trailhead and small parking area near a road bridge.

From Highway 1, just south of Mendocino, turn east onto Comptche-Ukiah Road and travel 30 miles to the state reserve.

The hike: Follow the path along Montgomery Creek past laurel and tan oak. The trail soon leads across a footbridge to join an old road on the opposite side of the creek. Here you’ll find the first memorial grove—Elizabeth M. Orr Memorial Grove—en route, as well as the reserve’s small picnic area.

A 0.25 mile ascent on the road, then a brief descent brings you to the splendid Grubbs Memorial Grove. About 0.5 mile from the trailhead, the road gives way to a footpath and crosses the creek at the mile-mark via a long log with steps carved into it.

The return leg has a wilder, more-isolated feeling. After traveling over a length of boardwalk, the fern-lined path heads down-creek before returning to Grubbs Memorial Grove and the trailhead.

© 2012 The Trailmaster, Inc.
From John McKinney’s
Day Hiker’s Guide to California’s State Parks
Trail descriptions and maps have been reproduced with the permission of the author.  To learn more about The Trailmaster and other related publications please visit their website at