Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park


What? :

Large state park located on the hills along the San Lorenzo River. When visiting the park you can hike into an old-growth of coastal Redwood, walk along the stream, hike to the hills, and even visit the old Roaring Camp Train Depot attraction that is nearby.
There are many hiking options in the park and you can find trails for all abilities and levels including bike trails.


The Park is located in the small town of Felton, 8 miles north and inland from Santa Cruz on road 9.

Google Map Link



When? :

Year round, at hot summer day you can enjoy the river access.


Due note 1: This is a state park so there is a 10$ paying station at the main park entrance. I saw that many people park their car on the side of highway 9 road, pay the fee and support our states park system.
There is a new pay-by-phone option, you can pay fees prior to arriving at the park or continue paying at the kiosk upon arrival with cash or credit card.


Due note 2: There are trails that are dog friendly.

Due note 3: This is a very popular park, especially during weekends and holidays. You will see many people along the Redwood loop and along the river path but once you hike up into the hills you will see a lot less other hikers.

Additional Blogs on nearby locations:

Fall Creek Unit:

A few miles north of the main park section and the visitor center you can find is the Fall Creek Unit. This is a second-growth redwood forest with a fern-lined river canyon. Fall Creek is open for day use only, and includes almost twenty miles of connecting trails. Sandhill Trail Parking and trailheads are marked on Felton Empire Road off Highway 9.

Please see my blog dedicated to this section of the park:

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park - Fall Creek Unit

My thoughts

I like visiting this park and enjoy the Redwood grove and the river front. Last time I visit here (Sep. 2023) during the weekend it was crowded with many others visitors.

There are strollers friendly trails near the visitor center and some trails are mountain bike friendly. There is overnight camping sites available in the remote park section.

The visit:

Park at the main parking lot, you will find here the visitor center and the bookstore.

From here you will have easy access to the Redwood Grove Loop Trail: 0.8 mile well maintained, stroller accessible, loop trail that is will take into the large Redwood trees grove.

The tallest tree in the park that is located in this grove is approximately 277 feet tall and about 16 feet wide, and around 1,500 years old.

You can also go to the river below and hike a short section of the easy going and paved Pipeline road.


From the end of the redwood grove loop you can keep hiking into the main park section, just keep going to Pipeline road and walk under the train bridge.

A safety note about the railroad:

This is an active track with the steam train passing from time to time, the bridge itself is not safe for hiking and there aren’t any side platforms to escape into if a train coming when you are in the middle of the bridge.


From the train bridge you have few options to hike:

1.      Take the Pipeline road, this paved road (good for bike and strollers) climb the ridge and after 1.1 mile from the train bridge you will reach a small bench and a viewing opening in the trees. From here you can see all the way to Santa Cruz. You can keep walking another 1.4 mile on Pipeline road all the way to it end at Graham Hill Rd. Once you are done you will need to go back on the same trail.

2.      Take the River Trail that for it first section is in parallel to the Pipeline road, at Cable Car Beach (easy river access) take the unnamed trail that going up and connect to Rincon Fire Road trail. Take the way back on Pipeline Road back to the starting point.

3.      Start as option #2, at Cable Car Beach take Eagle Creek Trail up to the Pipeline road, keep going up all the way to the Campground area. From here you have few options, I will recommend taking the Pine Trail right, after 0.6 mile you will reach the deck viewing point. From here take the Ridge Fire Rd down to Pipeline road or hike along the river in the same direction.


There are other trails that can provide river access mainly by using Rincon Fire Road (wide trail), need to check what are the river crossing options.


Overall, this is large nearby redwood forest that offer many options for hikes. After visiting the park, you can go and eat at Santa Cruz and enjoy the afternoon over there.

Roaring Camp and the Steam engines:

Just across the main parking lot you can visit the privately owned Steam engine train.

This is nice full functioning and working steam engine that is doing train rides along the old tracks. It is nice to see this steam engine still working and the kids will also enjoy seeing the blacksmith in action and some other activities.









Additional Pictures: