Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Guerneville

One of the best things about California is the sheer wealth of options available for seeing redwood trees. From Coastal Redwoods to Giant Sequoias, you can find them up and down the state. The Armstrong Redwoods are one of those special places that has all of the majesty of the redwoods without all of the people. I got a chance to explore the park recently, after having been told about it for years, and I can easily say it lived up to expectations. Here is all the information so you can go on the short ~2 mile trail yourself.

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Details

  • 1.8 miles
  • Flat
  • $8 to get into the park

Getting There

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Armstrong Redwoods are located about 35 minutes from Santa Rosa in the town of Guerneville. When you get to the town on Highway 116, you will see a sign that directs you onto Armstrong Woods Rd and into the park. There is a decent size parking lot right near the visitors center.

Pioneer Nature Trail

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After paying the fee and parking in the visitor’s center lot, you can make your way back to the toll booth which is where the Pioneer Nature Trail starts.

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This trail is almost immediately impressive as it bends through shaded groves and past massive trees on its way through the valley floor.

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I loved seeing all the greens from the leaves to the moss on the fallen branches, and each bend brought new trees and new views. We happened to be there at the start of fall, which brought with it some yellow and gold colors in the trees above as well.

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The first point of interest you will get to is the Parsons Jones Tree, which is the tallest in the park at just over 300 feet.

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From here you will keep going on the trail, and you will shortly reach a crossroads which has a few more gigantic trees and a fallen tree which shows the root structure.

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It was especially surprising to see the large roots of the fallen tree here.

Colonel Armstrong Tree

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Continuing on you will eventually reach the next point of interest and the oldest tree in the forest, the Colonel Armstrong Tree. The Armstrong Tree was named for Colonel Armstrong who bought this land and set out to protect it in the late 1800’s. This tree is over 1,400 years old, and it is very impressive to see.

Redwood Theater

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I would recommend heading out on the short spur that leads to the Redwood Theater from here as well. This massive 2,000 seat amphitheater in the middle of the forest is used a few times a year for productions but was even more impressive when it was empty like this.

I was told this is where you will see banana slugs as we’ll but I didn’t see any when I went. Heading back from here to the Armstrong tree you can catch back up with the trail and finish the last .6 miles of the loop. This area is more of the same but in that it is still incredibly impressive.

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If you like redwoods, then you owe it to yourself to see this spot. While Muir Woods is probably more impressive overall for a place to see redwoods in the Bay Area, Armstrong Redwoods can surely hold its own. It is especially great to be able to see these trees without the crowds.

Video

Here is a video of my time there.

Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

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About JoshMc

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  • Chris Flattum

    Where is the most southern place to find redwoods or other really large trees? I’m from Laguna and hunger to walk through some really large trees..

    • I would recommend going over to Sequoia National Park or up to Big Sur. Those are two great spots with some big trees!