Hiking amongst redwood trees is one of my favorite outdoor pastimes. These tall giants, growing up to 360 feet tall and can live for 2,000 years, are nothing short of mystical and magical. While those who survived logging efforts over the centuries can now be admired in various locations throughout California and Oregon, I opted for the four-and-a-half-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area to Humboldt Redwoods State Park for a weekend amongst redwoods.

Despite the rain in the forecast and the long drive, it felt worthwhile to undertake the trip. I arrived later in the afternoon on a Friday in early April, checked in with the friendly camp host and maintenance staff, and settled into site 29 on the north side. With its 52 sites, the campground would be over ninety percent occupied over the weekend. Before making some dinner, I took a walk on the Gould Nature Trail across the road and listened to the gentle waters of the South Fork Eel River.

Rain arrived as promised overnight, and breakfast needed to be prepared in full-on rain gear. Following some oatmeal and coffee, I drove north to Founders Grove, which is dedicated to the founders of the Save-The-Redwoods League. The main attractions of the half-mile walk are the Founders Tree and the Dyerville Giant. While the STR League can undoubtedly be thanked for their efforts in protecting these unique trees, I also learned about the complicated history of the league’s founders, namely their connection to white supremacy.

My next stop was the Big Trees Day Use Area off Mattole Road west of Hwy 101. This provided another opportunity to walk amongst a signature redwood specimen, the “Tall Tree,” 359.4 feet in height, to be specific.

I was familiar with Mattole Road from a bikepacking trip I had done a couple years prior. Despite that, I added a “drive around the block” for the locals to Honeydew, then north to Cape Mendocino before rejoining civilization in Ferndale.

Most striking was the feeling of remoteness along this stretch. While paved all the way, I only encountered the occasional house or farm past the hamlet of Petrolia. Ferndale offers some restaurant and coffee options along a well-maintained main street.

Before returning to Burlington Campground, I stopped by Rockefeller Grove, which I had missed along Mattole Road earlier. In 1931, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., donated two million dollars to the Save-the-Redwoods League, purchasing this part of the forest.

Burlington Campground

While Humboldt Redwoods State Park has multiple campgrounds, Burlington Campground is the only one open year-round. For this trip, I had booked site 29, which is only a short walk away from the bathrooms (and coin-operated showers) on the northern side of the park and has no neighbors behind it since it borders the edge of the campground and a creek bed (campground map).

Reservations can be made via ReserveCalifornia.


Firewood can be purchased from the staff at the check-in kiosk.

Trail info


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