Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Kruse Rhododendron Loop Trail

2.25 miles round trip with 200-foot elevation gain

One of the annual rites, and fine sights, of spring is a walk amongst the pale pink blossoms of Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve. California rhododendrons festoon the forest floor from about mid-April to mid-June.

The rhododendron’s success depends on its struggle for light in a dark world dominated by the tanbark oak, Douglas fir and redwood. A severe forest fire that scorched the slopes of Kruse Ranch was responsible for the sudden emergence of the rhododendrons here. Now, as the tall tree forest regenerates, it restricts the light available to the rhododendrons, thereby diminishing their grand display.

The Kruse family established a ranch here in 1880, raised sheep, and extensively logged the coastal slopes. Edward Kruse donated the land to the state in 1933, in memory of his father.

Directions to trailhead: Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve adjoins Salt Point State Park. Turn east off Highway 1 onto steep Kruse Ranch Road and travel 0.5 mile to the trailhead.

The hike:
This is a loop trail; begin from the leg north of Kruse Ranch Road or from the leg to the south.

The trail crosses two gulches—Chinese and Phillips. (You’ll explore the mouths of these gulches if you take the Salt Point Trail through the state park.)

For a longer hike, leave the loop trail a mile from the trailhead at the point where the path crosses Kruse Ranch Road. It’s possible to follow this dirt road for a mile to Stump Beach Trail, then follow this latter path 1.25 mile back to Highway 1, where it rounds Stump Beach Cove.

© 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 www.thetrailmaster.com.