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Redwoods

Baltimore, Maryland
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Redwoods

Hello -

On our coastal highway vacation we would like to stop along the way to see the Redwoods. Originally, we were going to go to Muir Woods during our stay but I'm trying to avoid renting a car while in SF. So I thought we could stop on our drive from San Fran to our overnight in Monterey. Should we stop in Henry Cowell or take the longer detour to Big Basin?

I've read that Big Basin trees are larger but is it worth the extra drive? I'd like to spend most of the day in Monterey as we already have some plans there. We would like to either drive through the trees or go on a short (1-2 mile hike). Thanks in advance!

N California
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1. Re: Redwoods

With your schedule and route, I think Henry Cowell would be the right choice; it cuts off a lot of slow driving in comparison to Big Basin.

San Jose, California
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2. Re: Redwoods

I agree - Henry Cowell is a great choice, esspecially when you have time contraints.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Redwoods

The Big Basin drive is on winding roads and even folks who normally don't get car sick may not like that drive and to add to it, it is longer whereas Cowell is just off 17.

Baltimore, Maryland
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4. Re: Redwoods

Thanks :) Henry Cowell it is!

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Redwoods

I would suggest taking Hwy 9 to Cowell rather than 17 you will get some awesome perspective of the trees on that drive. My suggestion is to take Hwy 1 south from SF and then left (North) on 9 to get to Cowell. There are faster ways, but you won't see as much of the forest if you take other routes.

MISSOURI
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6. Re: Redwoods

are the trees more impressive at Big Basin than Cowell??

I keep seeing recommendations for Cowell, mainly cause its easier to get too, but is the viewing just as good as Big Basin?

I guess I would be up for the drive to Big Basin if the view was better, or are both Parks about the same and so its less of a drive to get to Cowell?

And is Muir Woods not even a comparison in trees?

I'm confussed by all these State Parks!!! LOL

San Jose, California
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7. Re: Redwoods

Muir Woods is pretty small in area and very crowded - it is the "default" park for people visiting SF who want to see redwoods because it is the closest. I've been late morning on a weekday in October and not been able to find parking. So, if you can go to one of the other parks, I always recommend doing so.

Big Basin is one of my favorite parks - it is the first CA state park (perhaps first state park in the country - it was founded very early on) and the beginning of the movement to save the redwoods. There are some old growth groves (the really big trees) and the park has some really good hiking. IMO, if you want to get out and walk, this is the place - I am going hiking there this weekend. There are a couple waterfalls that are neat (Berry Creek falls is a heck of a hike, but Sempervirens is easy). And in addition to redwood groves, the park has several other ecosystems to hike through - it is really neat to see different types of forests so close together.

Henry Cowell also has some old growth trees, but I don't think the groves are as large - I could be mistaken, but just my impression from visiting. The interperative trail near the visitors center is better though - a short trail with informational markers along the way to help people learn about the forest. The park is also next to Roaring Camp, which is neat - they run a steam train through the redwoods. I don't know if Henry Cowell has as much hiking either - there are trails, but I don't think there are as many.

MISSOURI
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8. Re: Redwoods

thanks november_moon.....

I guess it just depends on where your going and how much you want to drive.

We are flying into SF but didnt plan on getting a car till the day we left to drive down Big Sur, so i think Muir is out for us.

We aren't BIG hikers but we can do a mile or two if there is some good pictures at the end of the trail!!! On the map it just looks like Big Basin is close to Hwy 1, but i guess its a bit further away than that!!

I think we will just go where the day takes us and see where we end up!!

Thanks for the info!!

San Jose, California
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9. Re: Redwoods

Regarding the location of Big Basin, there is a large wilderness area that includes Big Basin, Wadell Creek wilderness, and some of ther stuff. This whole area goes from deep in the mountains down to the coast - that is probably what you are seeing that is close to Hwy 1. The main part of Big Basin is near the town of Boulder Creek (Hwy 9 and 236) - this is where the park headquarters is, the major redwood groves, etc. As the crow flies, the park headquaters are no more than 8 or 10 miles from the ocean. However you have to go down Hwy 9 to Santa Cruz or over through Bonny Doon to Davenport to get to Hwy 1 from Big Basin - these are small mountain roads with lots of curves.

Here is a link to a park brochure for Big Basin:

…ca.gov/pages/540/files/BigBasinRedwoodsFina…

Santa Cruz...
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10. Re: Redwoods

If you want to spend most of your day in Monterey you should not try Big Basin, IMO. While it looks close to Hwy 1 on the map, there aren't any roads in the portion which looks near Hwy 1.

To get there from San Francisco you would want to get to Saratoga from Hwy 85, and take Hwy 9. It is then 13 miles of winding roads to the northern entrance to Big Basin, then a 17 mile very winding loop, which comes back to Hwy 9 at Boulder Creek, 13 miles from Hwy 1 in Santa Cruz.

You can easily do a small detour on your way to Monterey from Hwy 17 to see Henry Cowell and take a short hike. I don't think you would feel the trees are not tall enough for you, they are old growth and hundreds of years old. There are 15 miles of trails in the park, but a nice 1-1/2 mile one from the Visitor Center with interpretive signs.

To get there, take Hwy 17 over the Coast Range toward Santa Cruz. Take the Mt. Hermon Road exit over to Felton, about 3 miles, I think. Turn left on Hwy 9, unless you want to stop at the aforementioned Roaring Camp.

Henry Cowell is on the outskirts of Felton, 7 miles from Hwy 1 in Santa Cruz. I think you would enjoy the interpretive center and a 1-1;2 mile hike.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=546