Walk among giants at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton, California. The land was once home to the Zayante Indians. In 1846, Pedro Sainsevain became the first owner of a portion of the land. He entered the lumber business, building the Rancho Rincon lumber mill shortly after acquiring the land. The land changed ownership several times over the years before 350 acres were purchased by Joseph Warren Welch in 1867. Amongst the 350 acres was the 40-acre piece of land that is currently the Redwood Grove.
One year later, in 1868, Welch built the Big Trees Grove vacation resort. Many people, including President Theodore Roosevelt and President Benjamin Harrison, flocked to the resort because of the magnificence of the ancient trees. The Big Trees Grove resort thrived until 1930, when Santa Cruz County took control of the land as people wanted to protect the beauty of the land and trees. The land became the Santa Cruz Big Trees County Park. Samuel “Harry” Cowell proposed an idea in the early 1950s to combine the Santa Cruz Big Trees County Park with his adjacent, family-owned property. The idea came to life when the properties were combined and renamed Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The northern, 2,390-acre section of the park, Fall Creek Unit, was deeded to the State in 1972.
The now 4,650-acre Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is centered around the 40-acre Redwood Grove. The park still remains a home to grasslands, old- and second-growth redwoods, sandhills, and the San Lorenzo River. The largest redwood in the park stretches into the sky 277 feet and has a diameter of 16 feet. Aside from the jaw-dropping site of ancient redwoods that could be as old as 1,800 years, visitors can feast their eyes on large sycamores, bay trees, Douglas fir, mandrones, oak trees, and all types of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, bobcats, and more. There are 15-20 miles of trails to explore on foot or by horse, ranging from easy to moderate difficulty.
- Redwood Loop Trail (Distance: 0.8 miles, Elevation: 29 feet)
- Fall Creek (Distance: 8.3 miles, Elevation: 1699 feet)
- Big Rock Hole Trail (Distance: 6.9 miles, Elevation: 1361 feet)
- Powder Mill Trail (Distance: 7.7 miles, Elevation: 1059 feet)
- Rincon Fire Road Trail (Distance: 4.1 miles, Elevation: 915 feet)
- Ox Road Trail (Distance: 1.6 miles, Elevation: 200 feet)
- West Ridge Trail (Distance: 7.1 miles, Elevation: 1332 feet)
- Pine Trail (Distance: 2.2 miles, Elevation: 209 feet)
- Diversion Dam Trail (Distance: 2.3 miles, Elevation: 383 feet)
- Powder Mill Fire Road Trail (Distance: 1.6 miles, Elevation: 269 feet)
- Pipeline Road Trail (Distance: 6.0 miles, Elevation: 830 feet)
- Redwoods Reborn – Fall Creek (Distance: 7.8 miles, Elevation: 1666 feet)
- Lime Kilns Trail (Distance: 5.0 miles, Elevation: 728 feet)
Aside from hiking and horseback riding, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park offers swimming, picnicking, and camping. Visitors can swim in the San Lorenzo River. There are a number of picnic areas where you can enjoy a great meal in the outdoors with family and friends. Lastly, the park offers 113 campsites for overnight adventures.
Time to walk among hundred-foot giants at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park down by the bay.