As the main attraction in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, the Old Growth Redwood Trail is a pretty fantastic way to get immersed among these giants. The trail is less than a mile, but it could easily take you an hour as there is so much to see and you will want to take your time. Here is all the information so you can check it out yourself.
- .8 miles
- $10 to enter the park
- Wheelchair accessible but still a dirt path
- This information is from my visit in 2016 and 2021
- Check out Roaring Camp while you are there as well
Here is a video from my trip with my family in 2021.
After turning into the park and paying your fee, the trail leaves from the parking lot next to the visitor center. It is hard to miss as there are signs to help you find it.
Before heading out on the trail, be sure to stop by the visitors center and learn about the area. Also, grab a trail map that shows what all the numbers on the trail refer to. You can buy one for a quarter or just take one of the loaner ones and return it when you come back.
One random thing I learned on the trail was that the tree’s bark has a lot of tannic acids, which provide a defense against bugs, fungus, and even fire. Random, I know, but a fun thing to learn.
The trail is flat and shaded nearly the entire way. There are so many massive trees in this old-growth grove that it is a fabulous spot to explore.
Since the coastal redwoods can sprout from the base of an older tree, one of the first attractions you will pass by is the Redwood family circle, which has lots of smaller trees that form a circle where an old one once grew.
The main attraction in the middle of the grove is “The Giant.”
This tree is 270 feet tall and over 17 feet wide. It is a fantastic tree to behold, and it is worth hiking the trail just for it.
Passing the giant tree, you will continue along the path with lots of trees proceeding to pop up around you. Then you reach the halfway point, noted by the bathroom.
Be sure to continue past the bathroom to the Fremont Tree though. This tree is said to have housed John Fremont when he spent the night in the hollowed-out redwood.
You can still stick your head inside, and it is pretty big, I could have slept in it.
As you are walking back from the mid-point, be sure to listen for the train. The train tracks are right on the other side of the grove, and you can see and hear it if you are walking through when it goes by.
On the way back, I found the above tree with these massive burls and thought it was pretty cool for a picture.
The map also notes where banana slugs should be on the trail as well. Unfortunately, when I went, there were not any banana slugs, which was a bummer.
The last main tree of note is the Phantom of the Forest. This tree is described as having albino white foliage, and I thought it would stand out a little more than it does. It is an impressive tree though, with a large burl.
Passing this tree, you will wrap your way back around to the visitor center, completing the loop.
There are many more miles of trails you can see in the park, so make sure to check them out if you have time. Also, you can ride the old steam train on the outside of the park, read my review here.