The majestic redwoods of Muir Woods make for a magical day trip, but you can also enjoy a mini adventure at one of the Bay Area’s many redwood groves for a quick nature walk and be back in time for dinner. Many of these sweet spots are close to playgrounds and cafes too, so kids can play after their hike among the tall trees. Read on for round-up of the best 13 redwood groves in the Bay Area for an escape to nature this weekend.
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Hoover Redwood Grove, Golden Gate Park
If you can’t travel to the far north to see Humboldt County’s beautiful old-growth trees, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has a stunning mini-redwood forest at Hoover Redwood Grove. The coastal redwoods were planted in 1930 to honor war casualties, so the almost-100-year-old trees have grown to impressive proportions. The grassy area is perfect for a picnic, lawn games and relaxing next to the soaring trees. As you walk through the grove, look out for native wildflowers like the colorful rhododendrons that flower in late spring.
716-808 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
Golden Gate Park
Parking: Park for free along Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
Ecology Trail at the Presidio
This 1.4 mile route winds its way through Serpentine grasslands (that in springtime are full of gorgeous wildflowers in bloom) and the Presidio’s largest redwood grove. It leads to Inspiration Point Overlook with sweeping views of San Francisco Bay,Alcatraz, and Angel Island—a perfect way to reflect on afternoon spent with those gentle giants.
Parking: Find directions and trail maps at presidio.gov
Redwood Park at the Transamerica Pyramid Center
Nestled between the skyscrapers of San Francisco's Financial District is a unique surprise: a mini park with a whole half-acre of (transplanted) redwoods, smack dab in the middle of the city! Kiddos will also enjoy the fountain honoring Mark Twain; you’ll enjoy the fact that you still have the whole day to explore the city, and that fresh pasta and red wine in North Beach is just blocks away.
600 Montgomery St.
Parking: There is a parking structure opposite the Transamerica Pyramid at 631 Merchant St.
Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
Just a few miles from downtown Oakland, is Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park is a hidden gem of towering redwoods set in a 1,833-acre park. The last remaining strand of natural redwoods in the east bay was heavily logged for building materials until conservationists won a battle to protect this beautiful grove. For a peaceful, kid-friendly walk through the forest, park at Canyon Meadow Staging Area and take the Stream Trail through the trees, passing a playground and picnic area.
7867 Redwood Road
Oakland, CA 94619
Parking: Park at Canyon Meadow Staging Area, $5 entrance fee per car charged at Redwood Entrance Gate.
Mather Redwood Grove
You might not think of a college campus as a place to see redwoods, but there's a small grove of them at UC Berkeley's Botanical Garden, with trees varying in height to create the illusion of an enchanted forest.
200 Centennial Dr.
Parking: Parking is available in a lot across the street for $1 per hour. Garden admission with an advance reservation is $15 for adults, $7 for 7-17 year-olds and free for six and under.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Just a quick drive over Highway 17 from San Jose (as long as you avoid the beach traffic) you will find Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. As the park’s name will tell you, it is full of gorgeous redwood trees. From the parking lot, head towards the Visitor’s Center (a great stop to learn about the park) and you will see the Redwood Loop Trail—a 0.8 mile flat loop that takes you on a kid-friendly tour of hundreds of massive redwoods. Be sure to check out the famous Fremont tree at the midpoint of the loop. This tree was made famous by General John Fremont who is rumored to have slept inside the burnt-out, hollow redwood tree in 1846. Grab a flashlight from the visitor’s center (or use your iPhone’s flashlight) to fully explore the inside of this massive tree. Insider Tip: Just past the Redwood Loop Trail on the River Trail, you will find access to a great creek so bring your swimsuits to cool off!
101 N. Big Trees Park Rd.
Parking: Park in the day-use area for $10 per vehicle.
Portola Redwoods State Park
Sadly, Big Basin State Park, the biggest old-growth redwood grove in the South Bay, was badly damaged during the 2020 CZU fire. However, Portola Redwoods State Park, a preserve tucked away behind Big Basin, is a beautiful alternative. Walk among towering redwoods, see waterfalls tumbling down mossy rocks, take a refreshing dip in the shallow creek, or relax in the historic visitor center lodge.
9000 Portola State Park Rd.
La Honda, CA 94020
Parking: $10 entrance fee, park in the day use lots.
Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
For towering redwoods and sweeping coastal views, head to this 4,000-acre open space preserve. The Redwood Trail is an easy flat route that is specially surfaced and almost completely shaded, making it perfect for the little aborists. There are picnic tables and restrooms along this meandering path, and if you’re lucky, you’ll also get a good dose of banana slugs, bubbling creeks and butterflies.
Skyline Blvd., 4.5 miles south of Highway 92
Half Moon Bay, CA
Parking: There is plenty of roadside parking in addition to the lot.
Redwood Grove Nature Preserve
In addition to redwoods, this six-acre nature preserve has a boardwalk (along Adobe Creek), a rose garden and observation decks, making it the perfect place to explore redwood groves in a family-friendly and natural setting. The preserve connects to Shoup Park, which families (and parents) love for the awesome play areas and crawl tunnels.
482 University Ave.
Los Altos, CA
Parking: Visitor parking is available on University Avenue. No motor vehicles are allowed in the park.
Butano State Park
Editor's note: Currently partially closed due to CZU Lightning fire damage. Check website for open trails before you go.
If you are looking to combine the best of two worlds—the beach and the forest—then head to Pescadero and check out Butano State Park. Just 15 minutes from the beach, Butano SP boasts beautiful towering redwoods on miles of hiking trails. While most are not stroller-friendly, they are easily walkable and the ever-favorite banana slugs along the trail are sure to delight hikers of all ages.
1500 Cloverdale Rd.
Parking: Park in the day-use lot, entrance fee is $10.
Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Villa Montalvo is known for its gorgeous mansion and grounds where artists perform and display their works of art on the property. But just beyond the mansion are hidden hiking trails full of towering, as well as young, redwoods. Follow the Redwood Trail to the Lookout Trail for a view of the Bay Area like no other!
15400 Montalvo Rd.
Parking: Free, in the parking lots.
Downtown Larkspur boasts a charming main street full of restaurants and shops. Why not start there then meander your way over into Dolliver Park—an enchanting little place that the locals call “Dark Park,” which means just the right amount of redwoods. The kiddos will marvel at the windy road that was designed around the redwoods' wandering roots.
Magnolia Ave. at Madrone Ave. in Downtown Larkspur
Parking: Free street parking, but you may have to park a few blocks away as the redwoods make the road very narrow.
Tucked in the middle of Marin's San Geronimo Valley is a picturesque meadow and some of the largest redwoods in the county. There are shaded trails perfect for even the tiniest of hikers, or for more of an adventure climb along Dickson Fire Road that leads to sweeping views. (And if those things aren't impressive to your family, make sure to tell them it's also where George Lucas shot "The Ewok Adventure.")
Directions: From Hwy 101 in Larkspur, take the exit for Sir Francis Drake Blvd. west 8.6 miles, turn right onto Nicasio Valley Rd. Gate is approximately 0.5 miles up on the right. Outside of a small kiosk marking the grove, there’s no clear signage so it can be easy to miss. Just look out for the service road off Nicasio Valley Rd. that leads to the trailhead, about a half-mile north of Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Parking: With no parking lot, cars typically park along the road.
—Sarah McDonald, Kate Loweth & Mae Respicio
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