Things to See and Do in Armstrong Redwoods State Park
Located in the Russian River country. Armstrong State Park of giant redwoods is an 805-acre park that features a magnificent grove of ancient redwoods and a large outdoor amphitheater, with beautiful and easy nature trails accessible to everybody.
Do yourself a favor and skip the Muir Woods large crowds and big bus tours. Did you know that Muir Woods has become the first national park to require all year-round reservation and permit to access Muir Woods? Without which, you get turned down at the entrance wasting your day trip and time! Save yourself time and money and travel visit the real towering old redwoods in the wilderness of Santa Cruz mountains and enjoy more peace and quality time.
Park History: During the 1870’s, this area was set aside as a natural park and botanical garden by Colonel James Armstrong, a lumberman who recognized the beauty and natural value of the forests he harvested. After his death, the grove was operated by Sonoma County until 1934 when the State took over. In 1936 the grove was opened to the public as Armstrong Redwoods State Park. The grove’s status was changed to a reserve in 1964 when a greater understanding of its ecological significance prompted a more protective management of the resource.
Best things to see in Armstrong State Park and top walks and hikes:
The Tallest Tree: The Parson Jones Tree is the tallest tree in the grove, measuring more than 310 feet in height. This is longer than the length of a football field. An easy 0.1 mile walk from the park entrance.
The Oldest Tree: The Colonel Armstrong Tree is the oldest tree in the grove, estimated to be over 1,400 years old. It is named after a lumberman who chose to preserve this portion of the park in the 1870s. This magnificent tree is located within an easy half-mile walk from the park entrance.
The Icicle Tree: This tree shows the unusual burl formations often found on redwood trees. Burls can weigh many tons and grow hundreds of feet above the forest floor. Why these growths occur remains a mystery.
The Discovery Trail: This trail offers several Braille interpretive panels and a tree hugging platform.
Pioneer Nature Trail: This self-guided nature trail is an easy stroll through the grove and is also wheelchair accessible. Our volunteer trail guides may be available for larger groups through Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.
Easy 1 Mile: Take the Pioneer Nature Trail from the park entrance to the Armstrong Tree and Forest Theater, and then returning via the same route.
Easy 1.7 Miles: Take the Pioneer Nature Trail from the park entrance to the Armstrong Tree, then to the picnic area, and return.
Moderate 2.2 Miles with a 400′ climb: Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to the picnic area and return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Moderate 2.3 Miles with a 500′ climb: Take the Pioneer Trail from the entrance to the Armstrong Tree. Then take the Pool Ridge Trail to the picnic area. Return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Moderate to Strenuous 3.3 Miles: This is a combination of the above two hikes. Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to the picnic area. Then take the Pool Ridge Trail to the Armstrong Tree and return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Advanced Level Hikes: The following hikes begin in Armstrong Redwoods and wind their way into the rolling hills, forests, and grasslands of Austin Creek State Recreation Area – a dramatic contrast to the cool, moist, redwood grove.
Strenuous 5.6 Miles with 1100′ elevation climb: Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to the Gilliam Creek trailhead. Loop back down to the grove by taking the Pool Ridge Trail to the Armstrong Tree. Return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Strenuous 9 Miles with 1500′ climb:Take the East Ridge Trail from the front parking lot to Bullfrog Pond Campground. Return via East Ridge Trail or Armstrong Woods road to the Pool Ridge Trailhead. Take the Pool Ridge Trail back to the grove. Return to the entrance via the Pioneer Nature Trail.
Guided Pioneer Nature Trail group hikes are available by appointment only and are typically offered for larger groups. For further information, contact Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods at 707-869-9177.
Horseback Riding: All trails are closed by posted order to equestrian use through the winter season. However, when conditions permit, the trails are opened, usually during our peak season in summer. Make sure to call ahead before your visit to find out if the trails are open. Trailers can be parked in our front parking lot or in the east parking lot of the picnic area. No trailers of any type are allowed into the Austin Creek State Recreation Area due to the narrow, one lane, steep and winding mountain road.
Park Restrictions: Dogs must remain on the paved road and are not allowed on any trails in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Additionally, dogs are not allowed on any trail or dirt road in Austin Creek State Recreation Area. Bicycles are allowed on both the main paved road and on fire roads- no trails. Horses are not allowed on the Pioneer or Discovery Trails but are permitted on all other trails (when the season is open to horses.). Please respect all private property and no trespassing signs when using the parks, stay on designated trails, and do not cross low-level fencing.