About Austin Creek Backcountry Sites
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods works in partnership with California State Parks to operate and maintain Austin Creek State Recreation Area. Nestled amongst the rolling hills, oaks, and grasslands of this beautiful park are three unique backcountry campsites for nature lovers to enjoy:
- Tom King: A spacious wooded glen, at 3.5 miles from the trailhead
- Mannings Flat #1: A picturesque wildflower meadow, 4.5 miles from the trailhead
- Mannings Flat #2: A secluded alcove in the redwood trees, 5 miles from the trailhead
The backcountry sites are $25 a night, work on a first-come-first-serve basis and are only accessible by hiking trails. Each site can accommodate parties of up to 16 people, and comes equipped with a picnic table, food locker, fire ring, and outhouse. Proper backpacking gear is a must, and you must be prepared to pack out your own trash and filter your water from the surrounding streams. We are sorry, dogs (except active service dogs) are not allowed in the backcountry.
All sites must be paid for up front with cash or credit card ONLY (no checks). You must obtain a camping permit from a Field Operations staff member before entering the backcountry. All campground rules and regulations apply.
Please be advised that fire bans can go into effect at any time, and access can be prohibited due to bad weather or road closures. It is recommended that you check conditions prior to your stay.
As of June 10, 2017, there is a TOTAL FIRE BAN in effect for Austin Creek SRA. No fires are permitted in the backcountry sites or at Bullfrog Pond Campground. Camp stoves are OK.
All campers are required to sign a fire permit and agree to adhere to all campfire regulations.
For more information, call 707/869-2015 or email us at camping(@)stewardscr(.)org.
Hipcamp Promo Codes and other discounts cannot be applied to Bullfrog Pond Campground as it is run by the State, and is not a Hipcamp Landshare property.
- Listing type: Private
- No. of sites: 3
- Accessible by: Drive
- Accommodation: Tent Only
- Check in after: 2PM
- Check out before: 12PM
- Cancellation policy: Flexible
- On arrival: Meet and greet
- Minimum nights: None
- Accepts bookings: 12 months out
The vibe at Austin Creek Backcountry Sites
If you stayed here and have some insider info for us, let us know!
Fantastic campground! Some campsites are closers to each other, some more private. Note that sites 1-20 are shaded in the woods, while sites 21-24 are open on the pond, two totally different feelings. Loved the croaking of bullfrogs at night!
Very much echo what Chelsea Gaynor said before me: secluded campground but sites are very close together. For best seclusion, book 24, 21, 20, or 8. The bathrooms were in perfect shape, the staff was super nice, views were phenomenal. Bring bug spray.
We went camping on the Easter weekend. We loved the campground. Far away from civilization. Its already fun driving up the curvy road to the top. Great view and hikes. The Pond was almost dried out. We stayed on site 9 and really liked it. Felt nice & secluded
Pros: Right outside of Guernville, feels isolated, great views, cool setting in the forest. Cons: most campsites are very close together and have little to NO privacy. Be prepared for long, steep, one way drive into the hills, but worth the adventure! We stayed on Valentine's Day. HipCamp sent around red roses for all the campers! So cool! We will definitely come back!
- campsite #9, #21, and #24 are the most private...#24 being my favorite
- great sunset spot at the vista point on the main road just before the campsites
*if you're a light sleeper you might want to bring earplugs as the bullfrogs can be pretty vocal throughout the night
Rustic campground with spacious sites and clean bathrooms. There a 3 categories of sites in the main campground (not including the hike-in sites):
1. The drive-in sites (1-8) are along the main road when you first enter the campground. They are forested and slightly closer together than other sites, providing less privacy. There is a path that runs from around site 1 to around site 17 to get to the toilets. My choice for this set of sites would be 8, since it's on the end and gives the most privacy.
2. The reservable sites in the main area of the campground are forested. The toilets are between sites 18 and 20. The sites on the end provide the most privacy (9, 19, 20). Sites 14 & 15 and sites 16 & 18 are closer together than the other sites. We stayed in site 17 and thought it was one of the best in the area (despite having people walk by to get to the bathroom). It is a very large site, so we could only really see the neighbors on site 15 (site 19 was separated by a grove of trees).
3. Sites 21-24 (reservable) are located in the lower portion of the campground along the pond. The toilets are located across the road from site 23. Site 21 has a little bit of shade from the trees behind the site, but sites 22 & 23 are fully exposed to the sun with little privacy. Site 24 seems to be the best of the lot. It is tucked away from everything else, down a long path. There is an open area for setting up camp, but there is also shelter from the sun.
General notes on the campground:
- Bring bug spray! Around dusk, those little buggers are relentless - especially in the wooded areas on the campground.
- Make sure you check out the sunset from the upper viewing point (before you enter the campground). It's spectacular!
- No need to bring TP - it's provided in the well-kept bathrooms.
- If you want your food secured in the food locker, you'll need to bring your own lock (latches to keep critters out, but not hungry neighbors).
Beautiful camp site! The first-come-first-serve sites are big and have a bit of privacy. The pond is no longer a pond, and the camp ground is on a very strict fire ban (since 7-3-15). Dogs are allowed! Came Saturday at noon and there were 3 sites left.
Great experiences we had last year camping at bullfrog. The 2-3mls drive up to campsite was scary but worth it! Great outlook about 400 feet from campground entrance where you get to sit down and enjoy the sunset and edge of mountain and trees below your feet!
We stayed at a spot by the pond (heavenly) then had to move to a spot in the trees (not heavenly at all) the second night. We were right on top of five other sites - no privacy and it was just plain weird to be so close to so many other sites full of other campers. They need to re-design that area to spread out those sites.
What a special and delightful place! Lots of shade and nice sized spots. Each one is different. Many are on uneven ground so be prepared to go with the roll! No sinks in bathroom so toilets only.
The frogs don't come out until after sunset so be ready for fun around 9 pm. We really enjoyed catching and releasing little frogs with the kids each night.
The road in is very scary so do not attempt at night. We were there on weeknights in the summer and there was no camp host and very few campers.
Wonderful Redwood camping, with flush toilet and no shower. There is poison oak all over in the little patchy green areas, so be ware. We had the best time camping we have had in a long time. Remote, with hiking/running trails and perfect weather (altho' i am sure we were lucky, as it can be hot, and it can be foggy, so pack for all kinds of weather, as it changes quickly. layering is best, with shirts for hot weather covered with heavier and heavier clothing until you have a coat, and a wool blanket on top of that. better to be prepared than to wish you had brought more....)
We arrived at this campground slightly after quiet hours started, and the camp host camp directly out to us to check-in. She was very friendly and filled us in on fun things to do around the area.
The drive up is not one for the light-of-heart, especially not in the dark, but the remoteness is so worth it; I have never seen more stars in my life, and we met some of the most friendly people.
Bullfrog pond holds many fond memories for me. there are 24 sites and bathrooms; flushing. There is easy access to hiking trails with fantastic views of Sonoma County. The camp hosts are friendly and informative, and the bull frogs are soothing, to me, at least.
Just got back from Bullfrog Pond. Unfortunately, it was a less-than-ideal experience. My law school buddies and I have an annual campout, and this year we picked Austin Creek SRA. Yesterday, we got up, had breakfast, hung out at camp, and then went hiking. When we came back we had a few beers and played some games around the campsite. Big mistake. Within minutes a ranger was at our site telling us to shut it down or leave. We were loud, yes, but no more so than the kids screaming their heads off right next door. And it was 4 p.m. And we had already paid for another night. Needless to say, we won't be returning to Bullfrog Pond, and probably won't encourage any of our friends to use Hipcamp in the future.
Cons: Stayed here during a mid-summer heat wave. It barely cooled down below 80 degrees at night even though the redwoods below were in the 60s. The pond is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so come prepared with plenty of insect repellent.
Pros: Otherwise, fairly quiet, great views from the ridge above. Turkeys and deer walked through camp every day.
We had an overall great stay at Bullfrog Pond and will definitely be back. We stayed in site 17, which ended up feeling pretty private since the neighboring sites were not full on Sun - Mon nights. As previous posters mentioned, sites 10-18 are all pretty close together. If all were full it would have felt over-crowded for sure. Sites 17 and 18 are the last ones on a sloping hill - so these are relatively more private. Site 19 is pretty private - just know that your car is parked across the road and your gear has to be carried up a short but steep path. Site 20 looked great - very secluded. Sites 21-24 are by the pond and get full sun most of the day.
The park location is great - we loved spending the whole day in Guerneville before returning to the site. The road up to the campground has some amazing views once you get up higher in the hills. The road is a bit intimidating because it is so narrow and winding, but it is perfectly drivable in an average car during daylight hours. I wouldn't recommend arriving at the campground after dark until you are familiar with the road.
Although the park and hipcamp says that firewood and ice are available from the camp host, definitely come prepared with your own. We didn't see the camp host for the full 2 days we stayed. Also note that the sign at the park entrance always says that the campground is full, even when it is not.
We stayed at the Bullfrog Pond Campground and enjoyed the 3 days we spent there. The setting is beautiful and very peaceful. Lot's of hiking around the campground and down in the Armstrong Redwoods. The drive up the hill is an adventure in itself. I do have one suggestion though. To make the camping experience more enjoyable you should take the time and level out the camping areas in some of the campgrounds. We stayed in #16 and it was very hard to find a level spot to sit or even walk around. I understand you want to lessen the impact on the setting but I don't see how increasing the level the area around the tables and tent areas would hurt.
We stayed Thursday through Saturday at campsite 19. This was one of the best sites, with privacy and easy access to the pond (dry) and the restrooms and potable water. The weather was pleasant, never hot, slightly cool at night (bring a warm sleeping bag). The site only got hot direct sun between 11-1pm, being tucked in the trees. There are nice hiking trails right out of the campground and the star gazing was wonderful.
This is a great location, not far from Gureneville. The road up the mountain from Armstrong Redwoods is steep, curvy and poorly maintained one lane. No trailers allowed. The campground itself is not very private , dusty and noisy. But it has potable water and accessible bathrooms. Great hiking from there. 7/16
Although the road is VERY narrow, steep and windy to the campground, this is a bonus in that you don't have to worry about camping next to any RVs! The campground and panoramic views from on top the ridge were a welcomed retreat from crowds in Guerneville below, while still a relatively close drive for eating out or enjoying the Russian River. The campsites on Bullfrog Pond itself were VERY exposed while the others were generally very shaded by pine tree cover, but close to one another. All in all it was a very convenient way to enjoy being "on" the Russian River while camping above it.
Bullfrog Pond Campground is the perfect place to set up a hammock, read and nap. Site 13 had a lot of daytime shade and enough trees to set up two hammocks. If you are looking for more movement, this campground would be a good home base for hiking in the redwoods or tubing along the Russian River.