Park Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Visitor Center Hours: 10 am to 4 pm
Mountain Park Foundation Nature Store: 10 am to 4 pm
Campgrounds at Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Sunset and New Brighton State Beaches will remain closed through at least Wednesday, February 22 due to saturated soils and the potential for localized flooding and downed trees from winter storms. California State Parks now anticipates reopening on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 2 p.m. weather permitting. Campers are advised to follow local weather. Impacted campers with reservations will be contacted regarding refunds. Additionally, some the backcountry areas of Santa Cruz District State Parks including Wilder Ranch State Park will be closed due to trail conditions. California State Parks appreciates the patience of the public as it works to ensure the safety of visitors and protection of cultural and natural resources during these weather events.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is most famous for the 40-acre grove of towering old-growth redwood trees. Its historical significance and spectacular scenery draw travelers from around the world. Visitors can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, swimming, and camping on more than 4,650 acres of forested and open land. The skyscraping redwoods here were admired by explorer John C. Frémont and President Theodore Roosevelt. These trees also inspired some of California’s earliest redwood preservation efforts. Take a walk beyond the redwood grove and you’ll find four diverse habitats that this park preserves: grasslands, river/riparian, sandhills, and redwoods. The park’s visitor center, large picnic area, and old-growth redwood grove are accessible from the day-use area, located off Highway 9 in Felton. The tallest tree in the park is approximately 277 feet tall, about 16 feet wide, and around 1,500 years old. Keen-eyed visitors may spot banana slugs, black-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, or steelhead trout.
A few miles north is the Fall Creek Unit– a second-growth redwood forest with a fern-lined river canyon and remnants of a successful lime-processing industry. Fall Creek is open for day use only, and includes almost twenty miles of connecting trails. Parking and trailheads are marked on Felton Empire Road off Highway 9.
The park’s campground is situated in a mixed evergreen forest and is near the Santa Cruz Sandhills – rare ancient marine deposits home to endangered animals and plants including coastal Ponderosa Pines. Although the campground is linked to the day-use area by trails, vehicles must enter the campground east of Felton, via Graham Hill Road.
There are three separate vehicle entrances to this park. The day-use area, the campground, and the Fall Creek Unit.
The day-use area is located in downtown Felton on Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
From Mount Hermon Road exit off Highway 17:
To the main entrance: Follow Mount Hermon Road until it ends at Graham Hill Road. Turn right onto Graham Hill Road. At the next stop light turn left onto Highway 9. The park entrance will be a half mile down on your left.
To the campground: Follow Mount Hermon Road until it ends at Graham Hill Road. Turn left at Graham Hill Road and continue approximately 2.5 miles. The entrance is on the right side of the road at 2591 Graham Hill Road.
To Fall Creek: Follow Mount Hermon Road until it ends at Graham Hill Road. Turn right onto Graham Hill Road. Go straight through the Highway 9 intersection continuing onto Empire Grade Road. Follow this road for approximately 0.5 miles and the entrance will be on the right side of the road.
The park has approximately 30 miles of trails. Terrain varies from thick forest to chaparral. There is only one seasonal bridge (end of May to mid-October) near the old train trestle that crosses the river.
For a list of suggested hikes and activities, please click here.
Dogs are allowed in the picnic area, the campground, as well as on Pipeline Road, Graham Hill Trail, Powder Mill Fire Road, and Meadow Trail.
Dogs are not allowed on any other trails or interior roads. Dogs are not allowed in the Fall Creek Unit. Dogs are not permitted on the Old-Growth Redwood Grove Loop Trail. Where dogs are allowed, they must be on a leash at all times and kept in your car or tent at night. They may not be left unattended.
Bicycles are allowed only on Pipeline Road, Rincon Fire Road, Ridge Fire Road, and Powder Mill Fire Road. Bicyclists under 18 must wear a helmet. A bicycle campsite available for cyclists who are touring the area and pedal into the park. Register at the campground kiosk on Graham Hill Road.
Bicycles are not allowed in Fall Creek Unit.
Horses are NOT allowed on the following trails:
Redwood Grove Trail
Pipeline Road south of Rincon Fire Road
Cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles are not permitted on any trail or paved road in the park.
Roaring Camp Big Trees Railroad is next door to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. A brochure with general train information is available at the nature store and the visitor center. Visit http://www.roaringcamp.com/ or call 831-335-4484 for more information. If you pay the day-use fee, park in Cowell parking lot and walk a hundred yards to Roaring Camp.
The Visitor Center is at the beginning of redwood loop trail in day-use area, located off Highway 9 in Felton. There is a Sandhills Mobile Visitor Center stationed seasonally in the campground.
The Nature Store run by Mountain Parks Foundation is in the day-use area, located off Highway 9 in Felton.
The campground has a separate entrance from the day-use area, located off Graham Hill Road.
The park’s 113-site campground lies in a shady pine and oak forest. It’s about a two-mile walk or a five-minute drive from the campground to the Redwood Grove Loop Trail. It’s a half-mile walk from the campground to the rare Santa Cruz Sandhills habitat and to the highest point in the park, the Observation Deck (elevation 805 feet).
Picnic tables and fire rings are available at each campsite. Flush toilets and showers are a short distance away. (Bring quarters for the showers.)
Click here for a campground map.
Reservations are highly recommended between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Henry Cowell campground closes in the winter season. To make reservations, please visit www.reserveamerica.com.
There are no old-growth redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range that you can actually drive an automobile through. One redwood at Big Basin Redwoods State Park is named the "Auto Tree;" visitors would park and pose next to back in the 1920's and 30's.
There are three trees located in northern California that cars can be driven through. All located along US Route 101, far north of Santa Cruz County:
• All natural and cultural features are protected by law; do not disturb them.
• Camping and fires are permitted only in designated areas.
• Dogs must be on a leash no longer than six feet and are allowed only in picnic areas and campsites and on the Meadow Trail, Pipeline Road, Graham Hill Trail, and Powder Mill Fire Road. Except for service animals, dogs are not permitted on other trails or fire roads or anywhere in the Fall Creek Unit. Dogs are not permitted on the Redwood Grove Loop trail.
• All pets must be attended at all times and confined in a tent or vehicle at night.
• Camping, bicycles, smoking, and fires are prohibited in the Fall Creek Unit.
• Stay on established trails and out of all undeveloped areas and unlabeled trails.
• Be alert for rattlesnakes and mountain lions. Check for ticks after hiking.
• Poison oak flourishes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Its leaves grow in groups of three, with gently lobed edges. The plant may appear as a bush, vine, or ground cover with green or reddish leaves. Many people are allergic to its oil.