8:00 AM to one hour after official sunset.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Aug. 21, 2020 - Western Sonoma County is being heavily impacted by active fires in the LNU Lightning Complex. There are road closures along the lower Russian River (Hwy 116) and also on State Route 1 north of Bodega Bay north towards Salt Point State Park. Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and Austin Creek State Recreation Area closed until further notice.
Park staff has been impacted due to local mandatory evacuations orders. Other staff is working emergency operations. Due to this limited staffing, we may not be able to assist you over the telephone or return any phone calls.
Until the fires are under control in the LNU Lightning Complex, we advise you to seek alternative recreational opportunities outside of western Sonoma County. Thank you and stay safe.
CLOSURE order for Armstrong Redwoods SNR and Austin Creek SRA
ALL CAMPING CLOSED UFN
Tour Groups and Events in Armstrong Redwoods SNR: CLOSED.
Special Events are activities which are beyond the normal scope of activities and operations conducted in units under control of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Consistent with existing state policies and laws. District Superintendents may approve, by permit , a Special Event when it is found to be in the best interest of the Department of Parks and Recreation and is conducted by an appropriate sponsor at no net expense to the state. Special Event permits are required when fees are charged by the event sponsor beyond the regular State Park Facility Use Fees, when the Department has determined the event will create a greater potential hazard or liability to the State than incurred through typical operations, when the activity includes the exclusive use of an area within the park, when the activity interferes significantly with the public’s use of an area, when additional staffing or staff time is required or where items or services are sold. Special Event permits are required for any activity within the State Park System which meet any of these criteria, and which occur wholly or partially within or on any property owned, operated, or administered by the Department. Upon a finding by the District Superintendent that a special event is consistent with the unit’s use, he/she may issue a Special Event Permit for such use.
Examples of when a special event permit is needed:
- Bay Area Tours bringing in a passenger van into front lot and dropping off their group
- Alliance Redwoods dropping off two bus loads of kids with leaders to explore the park for the day
- A group of old car enthusiasts bringing into the park their roadsters for show
- A group of 50 wanting to set up for a birthday party which is in the picnic area
- A local running group of 30 coming in to run the trails of the park
If you have any questions pertaining to special events or if you are curious if your get together would need a special event permit, please call (707) 865-2391; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wedding Information: Not booking any special events or wedding at this time.
Wedding Ceremonies and/or receptions:
We offer the majestic group picnic area for your wedding ceremonies and receptions. This is the only location within Armstrong Redwoods SNR that we allow wedding ceremonies, receptions or events. The Forest Theatre is not available for wedding ceremonies, receptions or events. The Forest Theatre cannot be reserved.
The group picnic area is located within Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. The group picnic area can accommodate up to 150 guests. Parking in the picnic area can accommodate approximately 40 vehicles. The wedding site offers 15 large picnic tables, several smaller picnic tables, a large raised BBQ grill, a water fountain and nearby restroom facilities. The tables may not be moved. If the tables are moved you will be charged accordingly. The site has disabled access and parking nearby. No amplified music, generators nor electrical hookups are available or allowed.
Due to the fragile and protected nature of the Reserve, there are some restrictions on decorations, plants and flowers you are allowed to bring for your event.
Reservations for this popular facility are accepted 18 months in advance. We recommend booking early! We also highly suggest visiting the location prior to your event. To reserve the group picnic area for your wedding ceremony, reception, or other event please call (707) 865-2391; or email email@example.com
Designated Equestrian Trails Status:
Designated equestrian trails in Armstrong Redwoods SNR and Austin Creek SRA are currently OPEN for equestrian use.
Parking for Armstrong Redwoods:
Due to very limited free parking, all busses are requested to drop their visitors off in the front parking lot. Please consider taking your bus or tour van to the local park and ride across the street from Safeway. For normal passenger vehicles parking along Armstrong Woods Road, please do not park in the roadway. Also, please do not park in front of driveways or park trampling vegetation.
Armstrong Redwoods SNR:
The serene, majestic beauty of this Grove is a living reminder of the magnificent primeval redwood forest that covered much of this area before logging operations began during the 19th century. Armstrong Redwoods preserves stately and magnificent Sequoia sempervirens, commonly known as the coast redwood. These trees stand together as a testament to the wonders of the natural world. The grove offers solace from the hustle and bustle of daily life, offering the onlooker great inspiration and a place for quiet reflection.
The ancient coast redwood is the tallest living thing on our planet! These remarkable trees live to be 500-1,000 years old, grow to a diameter of 12-16 feet, and stand from 200-250 feet tall. Some trees survive to over 2,000 years and tower above 350 feet. Coast redwoods are classified as temperate rainforests and they need wet and mild climates to survive. The rainfall in Armstrong Redwoods averages 55 inches per year and the trees are often shrouded in a mystical fog that helps to maintain the moist conditions needed for the redwoods to survive. To find out more about these magnificent trees click the link About Coast Redwoods to the right.
The reserve includes a visitor center, self-guided nature trails, and a variety of picnic facilities. While you can drive into the park, the best way to experience the dramatic effect of the towering redwoods, is to park in the lot at the park entrance and walk in for free. Donations are accepted at the Visitor Center and at the kiosk entrance. All of the main park features can be found along the Pioneer Nature Trail. This trail is a mile and a half long round trip, is ADA accessible and is mostly flat and level.
Although no camping is available in Armstrong Redwood SNR, there is a campground operated by Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods located in Austin Creek State Recreation Area at Bullfrog Pond Campground (3 miles above Armstrong). Austin Creek SRA is accessed through the same entrance as Armstrong Redwoods. Austin Creek's rolling hills, open grasslands, conifers, and oaks are a beautiful and dramatic contrast to the dense canopy of the redwood grove. For more information go to Austin Creek State Recreation Area. by clicking the link on the right. For online reservations at Bullfrog Pond Campground or any of the backcountry campsites go to www.hipcamp.com
The redwood ecosystem is very fragile. Every effort is being made to preserve and protect this grove but it can only be done with your help. When you visit, please do not disturb or remove any natural features of the park, stay on designated trails and do not cross over the low- level fence line. We hope you enjoy a serene and rejuvenating visit among these inspiring giants.
NOTE: Dogs must be controlled on a leash at ALL times during your visit to your parks. Dogs on leash are only allowed on the main, paved road, in one of the developed picnic areas or within your registered campsite at Bullfrog Pond Campground. Dogs are NOT allowed on any dirt trail or dirt road. If camping, your pet will need to stay in your tent or in your vehicle overnight.
NOTE: Due to limited free parking, busses will be asked to drop their visitors off in the front lot. There is a park and ride located in Guerneville across from Safeway.
Features of the Grove:
The Tallest Tree
The Parson Jones Tree is the tallest tree in the grove, measuring more than 310 feet in height. This is longer than the length of a football field. An easy 0.1 mile walk from the park entrance.
The Oldest Tree
The Colonel Armstrong Tree is the oldest tree in the grove, estimated to be over 1,400 years old. It is named after a lumberman who chose to preserve this portion of the park in the 1870s. This magnificent tree is located within an easy half-mile walk from the park entrance.
The Icicle Tree
This tree shows the unusual burl formations often found on redwood trees. Burls can weigh many tons and grow hundreds of feet above the forest floor. Why these growths occur remains a mystery.
The Discovery Trail
This trail offers several Braille interpretive panels and a tree hugging platform.
Pioneer Nature Trail
This self-guided nature trail is an easy stroll through the grove and is also wheelchair accessible. Our volunteer trail guides may be available for larger groups through Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.
Suggested Walks and Hikes: No dogs on trails
Easy 1 Mile:
Take the Pioneer Nature Trail from the park entrance to the Armstrong Tree and Forest Theater, and then returning via the same route.
Easy 1.7 Miles:
Take the Pioneer Nature Trail from the park entrance to the Armstrong Tree, then to the picnic area, and return.
Moderate 2.2 Miles with a 400' climb:
Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to the picnic area and return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Moderate 2.3 Miles with a 500' climb:
Take the Pioneer Trail from the entrance to the Armstrong Tree. Then take the Pool Ridge Trail to the picnic area. Return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Moderate to Strenuous 3.3 Miles:
This is a combination of the above two hikes. Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to the picnic area. Then take the Pool Ridge Trail to the Armstrong Tree and return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Advanced Level Hikes
The following hikes begin in Armstrong Redwoods and wind their way into the rolling hills, forests, and grasslands of Austin Creek State Recreation Area - a dramatic contrast to the cool, moist, redwood grove.
Strenuous 5.6 Miles with 1100' elevation climb:
Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to the Gilliam Creek trailhead. Loop back down to the grove by taking the Pool Ridge Trail to the Armstrong Tree. Return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Strenuous 9 Miles with 1500' climb:
Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to Bullfrog Pond Campground. Return via East Ridge Trail or Armstrong Woods road to the Pool Ridge Trailhead. Take the Pool Ridge Trail back to the grove. Return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Guided Pioneer Nature Trail group hikes are available by appointment only and are typically offered for larger groups. For further information, contact Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods at 707-869-9177.
All trails are closed by posted order to equestrian use through the winter season. However, when conditions permit, the trails are opened, usually during our peak season in summer. Make sure to call ahead before your visit to find out if the trails are open. Trailers can be parked in our front parking lot or in the east parking lot of the picnic area. No trailers of any type are allowed into the Austin Creek State Recreation Area due to the narrow, one lane, steep and winding mountain road.
Dogs must remain on the paved road and are not allowed on any trails in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Additionally, dogs are not allowed on any trail or dirt road in Austin Creek State Recreation Area. Bicycles are allowed on both the main paved road and on fire roads- no trails. Horses are not allowed on the Pioneer or Discovery Trails, but are permitted on all other trails (when the season is open to horses.). Please respect all private property and no trespassing signs when using the parks, stay on designated trails, and do not cross low-level fencing.
In summer, the weather can be variable. Morning fog can blanket the grove and cool the air while afternoon temperatures can warm up quite nicely. Many trails lead into the upper hills of Austin Creek where temperatures can soar above 100 degrees. Layered clothing, a fully charged cell phone and plenty of water is highly recommended. Cellphone coverage is not available in all locations.
In the springtime, wildflowers are prolific, temperatures are mild and the fog is less frequent.
In winter, temperatures drop but remain moderate. Rain nourishes the grove and brings life to the many plants and ferns, turning the understory into a green, lush carpet. A sweater and rain jacket will allow you to enjoy the special tranquility found in the grove as water drops work their magic.
During the 1870's, this area was set aside as a natural park and botanical garden by Colonel James Armstrong, a lumberman who recognized the beauty and natural value of the forests he harvested. After his death, Armstrong's daughter and the Le Baron family mounted an energetic campaign involving public meetings, rallies and car-caravans to direct public attention to the need to preserve this last remnant of the once mighty redwood forest. Their efforts were successful, and in 1917 the County of Sonoma passed an initiative to purchase the property for $80,000.
The grove was managed by Sonoma County until 1934 when the State took over. In 1936 the grove was opened to the public as Armstrong Redwoods State Park. The grove's status was changed to a reserve in 1964 when a greater understanding of its ecological significance prompted a more protective management of the resource.