Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is probably best known for its towering old-growth redwoods and the 30 miles of hiking trails which take you on a tour through four diverse habitats: grasslands, river, sandhills, and redwoods. A hike along one of the trails that runs parallel to the San Lorenzo River is not to be missed; stop at the picnic area and watch anglers fish for steelhead trout and salmon as you are surrounded by skyscraping redwoods. If you're looking for a fun activity for the kiddos, Roaring Camp Big Trees Railroad is right next door! Camping in Henry Cowell Redwood State Park can be found at the 113-site campground which is shaded by the surrounding pine and oak forest. Tip: Google maps will often send you to the Day Use section of the park on Highway 9. To find the campground, take Highway 17 to Mount Hermon Road to Graham Hill Road. The campground closes for the winter season.
Only ten minutes from nearby Santa Cruz and five minutes from Felton, the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park campground offers you a chance to get...
If you are thirsty after your hike, Monty’s Log Cabin bar is a local bar that serves up some tasty brews
We stayed in site 11 last summer. The sites are spacious and tidy. Lots of poison oak on the outside of the rings, but whatever. Several trails weave round and through the campground. It was great fun for children but not knee deep in smalls (and we have smalls).
The Sayante tribe, a subgroup of the Ohlone culture, lived in this area before Spanish rule. They found plentiful shelter, water and food both on the land and in the river. The San Lorenzo River was a major source of fish for the Sayante people, allowing them to exchange steelhead and salmon with neighboring tribes for acorns, obsidian and other resources.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located on a former land grant. First owner Pedro Sainsevain acquired this land around 1846 and went into the lumber business. He built a lumber mill near the park’s present- day picnic area. Known as “Rancho Rincon,” the land included a large, old-growth redwood forest. Over the years, this tract changed ownership many times. Much of the surrounding land was logged, but the giant trees in the grove were never cut.
In 1867 Joseph Warren Welch bought 350 acres, including the 40-acre virgin redwood stand now known as the park’s Redwood Grove. Welch built an elaborate vacation resort in 1868, naming it the “Big Trees Grove.” The ancient trees attracted dignitaries from around the world, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Harrison.
Fall Creek Unit, the northern section of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, is located about 1⁄4 mile west of the town of Felton. The 2,390-acre area contains nearly the entire Fall Creek watershed, extending southeast from Ben Lomond Mountain.
The Ben Lomond Fault runs along the base of the mountain, exposing huge amounts of limestone. This limestone was formed by heat and pressure crystallizing layers of tiny sea creature fossil remains.
Heating raw limestone in kilns for several days yielded lime used in mortar and plaster —staples of the building industry.
Massachusetts native Henry Cowell bought an interest in the thriving Davis and Jordan Lime Company in 1865. Cowell renamed his venture the IXL Lime Company in 1888. At its highest demand, 80% of lime came from Santa Cruz County.
Kilns were built on the North Fork of Fall Creek to convert the quarried rock into usable material. Hundreds of thousands of cords of wood were burned over the years to keep the kiln fires burning—leaving the hills bare. Eventually, raw limestone and log supplies dwindled as concerns about deforestation arose and lime processing became obsolete. The Fall Creek kilns closed in 1919 after nearly 70 years of full- scale operation.
Today, the old IXL lime kilns can be seen along the South Fork Trail; the second- growth redwoods nearby testify to nature’s resilience as the hillsides become forested once again.