The Western United States is full of humbling landscapes. From the sprawling deserts of Arizona to the vast mountains of Montana, an outdoor paradise is generally only a drive away. But few wonders offer the serenity of a redwood forest. At the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Sonoma County, hikers can get up close to these shady giants.
The tallest organisms on earth, these ancient coast redwoods grow to be 200-250 feet tall and can be 12-16 feet in diameter. With a lifespan of 500-1,000 years, these trees are a sobering sight for any traveler.
While hiking through the calming forest cover of the reserve, you can soak in the outdoors and marvel at the history of the trees.
Hiking Through The Redwoods
Visitors to the park can take self-guided nature tours, pause for a picnic, or drive around the park. But there is nothing better than exploring the reserve on foot. Armstrong offers several hiking trails for different levels. While you can learn more about your hiking options at the reserve’s visitor center, the following are some of the most popular treks.
- Colonel Armstrong Loop: This trail begins at the oldest tree in the reserve, the Colonel Armstrong Tree. Named after a Civil War Union officer, this tree acts as a symbol for the Armstrong family’s purchase and conservation of the land. The 1.3 mile loop follows a flat path through the forest, connecting to other trails in the network.
- East Ridge and Pool Ridge Trails: This 5.2 mile trail is easily accessed from the visitors center. At 1,558 feet in elevation, the trail is ranked as moderate difficulty. Follow this loop to view a waterfall and river, and of course, to enjoy the beauty of the forest. Expect to hike uphill and catch stunning overlooks of the Sonoma region.
- Pioneer Trail: This trail is a sightseers dream. While walking along the Pioneer Trail, you can catch some of the tallest trees in the whole preserve. This 1.5 mile trail is mostly flat, so it is suited to all hiking levels.
This fragile ecosystem is one of the best that California has to offer. By visiting this reserve, you are both supporting and enjoying the state’s redwood conservation efforts. This will allow future generations to revel in the beauty of this forest, just as you will.