Portola Redwoods State Park


What? : Large Redwood forest park located at Pescadero river basin.

There are few hiking options that can fit all levels. In this park you can find one of the most beautiful redwood groves in the Santa Cruz mountains.


Where? : The park is nested in the deep Pescadero Creek of Santa Cruz mountains, 30 min drive west of hwy 35 (skyline road).

Google Map Link


When? : Year round, the best time is during winter when everything is green and lush, even when it rains the large redwood forest protect you from the direct rain or wind.


Due note 1: When I’m writing this blog (Jan 2021) all the other Pescadero Creek Park Complex are still close to visitors, as a result of the wildfires of 2020 summer, so you can’t hike out of Portola boundaries.


Due note 2: This is state park so need to pay 10$ entry fee, bring cache with you because office is not open as it used to be, pay by envelop…


Due note 3: The park has a large campsites and picnic areas and it also have remote backpackers camping option.


My thoughts: I visit this park many times, also using it as a starting point for my hikes to the surrounding parks in Pescadero Creek. Unfortunately, all county parks are close due to the fires of 2020 summer. I really like the long hike to the Redwood grove.


The visit:

Short hike (1.4 mile, Red on the map):

There are few hiking options near Pescadero river at the lower section of the park.

The recommended one:

From the Park Office and small Visitor Center take Iverson trail. Do not continue Pomponio or Coyote trails (close due to the fires) but keep going down all the way to the river crossing.

Here you need to cross the river, during summer there is a small bridge, but it is removed at winter, usually it is possible to cross the Pescadero Creek by rocks-crossing without wetting your shoes.

Keep hiking on Iverson trail on the other side of the river and turn left at the Trail to Tiptoe Falls, cross the river back to the north side and climb to the road. Here you can go back to the visitor center.


A 1.8 miles hiking addition can be to turn right on the road until you reach summit trail, turn left and start to climb the ridge. Once connecting to trail turn left on Slate Creek trail and go back down to the main road.


Peter’s Creek Redwood grove loop at Bear Creek (12 miles, Blue on the map):

This is one of my favorite redwood groves hike.

Because its location, relatively deep in the canyon 5 miles away from the visitor center, not many people hike to this place, even at weekends you may have it all to yourself.


From the Park Office walk on the park road to Old Tree trail on your left. Soon after you get into the trail turn left into Slat Creek trail, from here the trail moderately climbed to the ridge.

After passing Summit trail on your right keep hiking until you will reach the large trail opening at Salt Creek Trail wilderness campground (2.7 miles from the road).

Here turn left on the main wide trail that clearly signed as Bear Creek trail, the trail keeps climbing for another 1.4 miles until you will reach the hike highest point. At this section of the trail, around ½ miles from the campsite, you can see an old rusty car in the woods on your right (easier to spot it on your way back), not clear how the car reach this remote place many years ago.

From highest point the trail sharply descends into the creek, after 1.2 miles you will reach Bear Creek crossing.

Keep walking for short distance on the other side of the creek and you will reach Peter’s Creek Redwood grove loop on the main creek.

This is 1-mile loop that will take you along Peter creek (has running water year-round), surrounded by the huge redwood trees. At the loop it is not so much important which direction you will take, I always turn left and doing the loop counterclockwise.

After enjoying this magic place at the creek, you need to climb your way back up to the ridgetop crossing and from there all the way back to the park headquarter.