Roaring Camp & Big Trees Railroad: Riding a Steam Engine Through the Redwoods

During my visit to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, I basically stumbled on the Roaring Camp Railroad that is right on the other side of the parking lot. After walking around the beautiful Redwood Grove Trail, I went over to check out the train and got a ticket for the ride that was leaving 15 minutes later. It was a fantastic experience and one that I wholeheartedly recommend, check out all the information on it below.

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  • Check the website for running times but normally only twice a day
  • Cost: $27
  • Takes about an hour and a half
  • This information is from my visit in 2016

Getting There

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After parking in their lot (paid) or the state park lot (I recommend this as you can visit the park and other parks in the area the same day with one cost), you can head over on the short trail into Roaring Camp.

Big Trees Railroad

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The area where the steam engine leaves has a lot of things to do, like a small store, restaurant, and even a museum area.

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I didn’t spend a lot of time walking around since I was there only 15 minutes before my train, but it seemed like it had some fun stuff for families.

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I grabbed a ticket from the store, walked around to see the train cars on the outskirts, and then waited in the loading area for the train to pull up. I would recommend waiting here as it is fun to see the train come in and get filled with water (over 800 gallons are needed to power the steam engine for the ride).

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After it stops, they will let you on the train cars, and it is open seating so you can sit wherever you like. They don’t check your tickets when you get on, but they do as the train is going, so make sure you have one.

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After filling up with water, the train took off and started the 30-minute journey to the top of the hill. I cannot even explain how fun it is to hear the train horn, see the steam spewing out the top and watch as it winds its way up the mountain. As a full grown adult by myself, I loved it and was happy I paid to do it.

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The train gets into the forest pretty quickly and winds around the outskirts of the Redwood Grove Trail.

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It then crosses an old trestle, which is always fun to see, before starting its uphill climb.

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You continue to wind your way through redwoods and other trees while the conductor talks about the forest.

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When you reach the old trestle that burned partially years ago, you will start the first of a few switchbacks.

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Yep, the train stops, changes tracks, and then goes up a set of switchbacks. This is pretty fun and doesn’t take long.

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This part is the steepest uphill of the journey, and the train was letting out a ton of smoke to make it up the final push.

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When you reach the top of Bear Mountain, the train stops and allows you to explore for 10 minutes.

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There is a bathroom up there and a small redwood grove. I opted to use my ten minutes on the grove. The grove was magnificent with lots of trees all around a circle, and it was a fun addition to the trip.

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This is also a perfect time to take photos of the engine as well, which I imagine you will want to do as it is really beautiful.

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After the horn sounds, everyone gets back on the train for the ride down. It is mainly the same track with a few differences, but it is beautiful to see it again and to spend another 30 minutes riding the train. I made a short video on my time here below if you want to get a better understanding of the experience.

This is a fantastic stop, one that I really enjoyed. I am glad I stumbled on it and am happy that I spent my $27 to have this experience. Let me know what you think if you go.

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