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Mendocino Woodlands State Park

Mendocino Woodlands Trails

1-5 miles round trip from camps

It was a noble idea that arose in the 1930s when many Americans had fallen on very hard times: create large campgrounds across America, inspired settings for introducing the public to the wonders of nature. Forty-six camps (including famed Camp David in Maryland) were built. Today, only Mendocino Woodlands has retained its historical integrity and is still used for its original purpose.

Located in the redwood forest, seven miles inland from the Mendocino coast, Mendocino Woodlands State Park is a kind of living monument to the Depression-era workers of the Federal Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The camps, along with some 200 structures, are preserved as they were in the 1930s. In recognition of its contribution to U.S. history, Mendocino Woodlands was honored with National Historical Landmark status in 1997.

The camps are far more than historical curiosities and are used today by church, youth, arts, music and nature study organizations, which set up “camps” within three large campgrounds. Family and group recreation and environmental education are other uses of the facilities.

The nonprofit Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association has been the steward and concessionaire for the state park since 1949. Association staff offers nature programs to students and campers.

Some 25 miles of trail loops through and around the park, an attractive mix of redwood forest, riverside and meadowland environments. The park, which totals a respectable 700 acres is bordered by the huge Jackson State Forest to the north and the big new Big River State Park to the south. Mendocino Woodlands trails connect to the far-flung trail systems of the state forest and state park.

Day use is permitted, but not particularly encouraged. Park staff has the concern that day hikers (at least more than a few of them at a time) might detract from the camping experience. Most of the paths begin in the camps and signage is sporadic at best.

Directions to trailhead: The park is located 7 miles from the Mendocino Coast. From Highway 1 in Mendocino, drive miles inland on Little Lake Road to the signed turnoff for Mendocino Woodlands State Park.

© 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