Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Santa Cruz, California 95060

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"While this ride through Henry Cowell Park is rated as an easy one, there is one sizable hill that cannot be taken for granted. Nevertheless, the ride is short and on the whole, quite flat. Just within the park is a visitor center which has information about the park and the surrounding redwood forests. You will follow a paved service road through nearly the entire length of the park and then climb a relatively small hill along a narrow park trail. At the top is an observation deck with views of the surrounding forest. The return back is along the same way you went in."

More Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day Hikes around Monterey & Carmel (Day Hike Books)
Robert Stone
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"Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is tucked into the coastal mountains that run a few miles north of Santa Cruz. The dog- friendly park has a network of more than 1 5 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. The huge 4,000-acre parcel of land is divid- ed into two disconnected units. This hike is located in the smaller southern unit, just south of Felton and adjacent to the university and Pogonip Park. The lower 1 ,800-acre park includes majestic old-growth redwoods up to 1 ,800 years old; oak, pine and syc- amore forests; stream-fed canyons; open grassland meadows; dry chaparral-covered ridges; and the serpentine San Lorenzo River with riparian river gorges and sandy beaches. This loop hike explores all of these ecosystems. The route follows the San"
Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area (The Mountaineers Books)
Laure Latham
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"Easy hike with ancient redwoods, river splash spots, and steam trains"
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco (Menasha Ridge Press)
Jane Huber
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"Visitors pour into Henry Cowell, drawn to the park’s magnificent redwood grove, but beyond a short popular loop through the giant Sequoia sempervirens, there’s a vast and varied park lightly traveled, except by locals. This hike is a soup-to-nuts tour through redwoods, sunbaked chaparral, and even ponderosa pines. You can also get a glimpse of a narrow-gauge train that passes through Henry Cowell."

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Trip Reports

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I pretty much followed the route featured in the guide except that instead of getting on the High Meadow Trail just past the Farm, I continued up the Rogue Valley Trail to North end of the Wildcat Loop Trail. The Wildcat Loop Trail is a very pleasant shaded path that switchbacks uphill to join (and cross-over) the High Meadow Trail.

From here on I stuck to the guide taking the High Meadow Trail, Upper Wildcat Canyon Trail, Wildcat Loop Trail and returned to the parking lot via the Coyote trail.

Even though I visited the Preserve on a week day, there were quite a few other hikers, runners and horses out on the trails. I'd guess that, as the guide says, weekends could be crowded. The trails are very well maintained but show heavy usage.
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Wow, Jane Huber (the author of this eTrail) was right. She knows the Bay Area Trails (she has a dedicated site) and she said this one was "very very very busy". She wasn't kidding. The trails are very well graded, the signage is pretty clear (some spots are a tad confusing), and the overall hike is a good one. Like the eTrail reports, once you move past Deer Hollow Farm, you will reach some more solitude, but not totally (which was our experience on a Saturday in April). The views of the Canyon are cool except for the eye sores PG&E have lined along the mountain sides (a necessity I suppose). Rancho is great because of its close proximity, but it is also it's curse as every living soul who even "thinks" they know about Preserves goes to Rancho. If you don't mind driving, skip this one and head out to Monte Bello, Los Trancos or Russian Ridge first.

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Trail Information

Santa Cruz
Nearby City
700 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Technical Difficulty
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
2 hours
300 feet
Trailhead Elevation
800 feet
Top Elevation

Trail Log