Get Out and Explore
Butano has 40 miles of hiking trails leading along lush creeks, into steep canyons, and up to scenic ridges. You can photograph mushrooms in January, spot newts in February, and orchids in March. The redwoods, of course, are glorious any time of year.
Little Butano Creek
Trailhead: Main park road above Olmo Fire Road and below Ben Ries Campground. 1.5 miles (one way). Elevation change about 150 feet.
Follow this creekside trail for an easy walk through some of the park’s most beautiful redwoods, ferns, and sorrel.
Six Bridges Trail
Trailhead: Visitor Center. 2.2 miles out and back, elevation change about 200 feet.
Starting in the alder woodland, head up into the lush redwood forest surrounding Ben Ries Campground. Lots of little streams cross the trail, and yes, there are really six bridges—not to mention an artificial bat house you can observe from a bench erected by the Sierra Club. Dusk is the best time to see the bats themselves.
Goat Hill Loop
Trailhead: Ben Ries Campground. 2.8 mile loop, elevation change 500 feet.
Head from the east side of the campground to the Goat Hill Trail. Continue upward through stunning redwoods to the Olmo Fire Road. Head back on the Six Bridges Trail to camp. A satisfying circle through oak and redwood forests.
Jackson Flats Loop
Trailhead: Visitor Center, 5 mile loop, elevation change 900 feet
The Jackson Flats Trail traverses up through Douglas-fir and second-growth redwoods to a mountainside marsh. In the rainy season, look for Pacific tree frogs and California newts swimming among the cattails. From there, head up to the ridge and circle back on the Butano Fire Road.
Trailhead: Visitor Center. 9.5 mile loop, elevation change 1,200 feet.
Experience everything the park has to offer in one grand loop. Take the Jackson Flats Trail to the secluded and spectacular Canyon Trail. At the headwaters of Little Butano Creek (just below the backpacker’s camp), circle back on the Indian, Doe Ridge, Goat Hill, and Año Nuevo Trails.