Around Santa Cruz – Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park


Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers flock to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, nestled amongst the majestic trees of the Santa Cruz Mountains on Highway 9.  Featuring over 20 miles of stunning hiking and riding trails that wind through thickly-forested areas of redwoods, evergreens, riparian and ponderosa pine, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is truly a California treasure.

The Creation of the Park

By the late 1880s, California’s redwood trees were known all over the world.  The virgin redwoods on Santa Cruz Mountain became the site for a popular resort owned by Joseph Welch.  By the early 20th century, the resort boasted its own train station, hotel, dining hall, cabins and dance pavilion.  Foreign dignitaries were frequent visitors, coming to marvel at the behemoth trees.  It was even the site of a presidential visit when President Benjamin Harrison dropped in to take in the breathtaking groves, one of  which was later named after him.

At the same time, entrepreneur Henry Cowell acquired the property adjacent to the resort to aid in his extensive limestone quarrying business.

As time passed, the Welch family looked for a buyer for the resort, and the county stepped in to turn the beautiful grove into a county park.  By the 1950s, only one descendant of Henry Cowell’s family remained, and he negotiated a deal whereby he donated all the land adjoining the county park to the state, with the stipulation that maintenance of the county park’s grounds would also be handed over to the state for the creation of one large, magnificent state park to preserve the beauty of these enduring trees.  He was successful, and in August of 1954, the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was formally dedicated.

Park Features

Today’s park features unbeatable natural character, well-maintained facilities and easy accessibility.  The park comprises over 4000 acres, with miles of hiking trails traversing through five different plant communities.

Wildlife is in abundance at the park.  It is not uncommon to see jays, squirrels and deer.  More elusive are the ringtails and bobcats.  Those with keen eyes may even spot a golden eagle now and then.

Some trees in the park have stood for more than a thousand years, and the specimens in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park rival those seen anywhere else in the state.

The park provides 112 campsites and a large picnic area along the San Lorenzo River.  It’s a great place to host company picnics, family reunions and other social gatherings.

Activities and Events

On several Saturday nights in summer, you can join a guided, moonlit tour of the redwoods.  Gaze through telescopes at the night sky while enjoying music and refreshments.  This is a great event for the whole family to enjoy.

Learning about bugs isn’t so bad when you attend Bug Day at the park.  Explore varieties of insects from arachnids to ladybugs.  Discover insects that thrive in water like weevils.  This event has lots of activities for the kids to enjoy, including games, races and treats.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park plays hosts to thousands of visitors each year, and it’s easy to see why.  It’s a wonderful place to relax with loved ones, breathe in the fresh air and beauty of the redwoods, and to reconnect with nature.

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