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Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Location Santa Cruz County, California
Nearest city Felton
Coordinates 37°01′N 122°03′W / 37.017°N 122.05°W / 37.017; -122.05Coordinates: 37°01′N 122°03′W / 37.017°N 122.05°W / 37.017; -122.05
Area 1,750 acres (7.1 km2)
Established 1954
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation
Official website

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a California State Park located in Santa Cruz County, primarily in the area in-between the cities of Santa Cruz, Felton, and Scotts Valley, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, and it includes an extension in the Fall Creek area.

Contents

Geography

The main park is approximately 1,750 acres (7.1 km2), and the Fall Creek extension is an additional 2,390 acres (9.7 km2). In the numerous stream canyons live large populations of Coast Redwoods, Coast Douglas firs, California Bay Laurels, tanbark oaks, hazelnut, and Bigleaf Maples. The highest points are far enough above sea level to support fairly unique chaparral communities known as "elfin forests". The majority of the rest of the park is made up of mixed evergreen populations, including 200 acres (81 ha) of old-growth forests[1] composed of Coast Redwoods, Coast Douglas firs, Pacific Madrones, live oaks, and even the occasional Ponderosa Pine, the latter extremely rare at such low elevations. The old-growth redwoods, amounting to 40 acres (16 ha)[2] and usually surrounded by many forms of fern and plentiful Redwood Sorrel, are located entirely in the main section of the park, as the Fall Creek area was logged extensively for fuel for sometime lime kilns.

Features

Both portions of the park have much to offer vacationing families or nature enthusiasts. Hiking, biking, fishing, camping, RVing, birdwatching, dog-friendly trails, shopping at the Mountain Parks Nature Store, and horseback riding await visitors to this park. Check the official website for more information.

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Main park

There are over 15 miles (24 km) of hiking trails here, some of which lead to small, isolated sandy beaches on the San Lorenzo River, and others with overlook views of the Santa Cruz mountains, with peeks at the Monterey Bay.

The main section of the park is the home to redwoods, Douglas fir, madrone, oak, and a rare feature of the park, a stand of Ponderosa pine.

The park has a newly remodeled visitor center, which is open year-round to the public, and is staffed by California Parks employees and volunteer docents. Additionally, the Mountain Parks Nature Store [3] is open[4] during most park hours, and there is a direct entrance from the park's main parking lot to the grounds of Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad.

The Redwood Grove comprises old-growth "virgin" redwoods, the oldest trees of which are approximately 1,400-1,800 years old and grow to approximately 300 feet (90 m) tall and over 16 feet (5 m) in diameter. Referred to by locals as "the loop," the grove is primarily a self-guided walk -- but on most summer weekends, and many other times year-round, free guided walks led by docents or park employees are available. Featured on the loop are unique old-growth redwoods, including one with albino growth lignotubers and the John C. Fremont tree (a tree hollowed out by fire that was once used as a resort honeymoon room).

In the field next to the park's entrance kiosk, all three known types of redwood trees, the Coast Redwood, the Giant Sequoia, and the Dawn Redwood (the latter two not native to the area) are planted together, providing a unique place to instantly compare and contrast the members of this family of trees.

This park provides a good environment for the study of different habitats. Habitats in this park, often changing back and forth within a few hundred feet of one another, include riparian, sandhill community, mixed evergreen, and redwood forests. Anglers fish for steelhead and salmon during the winter, and there is also a picnic area overlooking the San Lorenzo River.

Besides roads, the park may also be reached by the Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway, and campsites for tents and RVs are available -- just short day hike distances from the main part of the park.

Fall Creek extension

The extension of the park is graced with over 20 miles (30 km) of hiking trails, mostly along the creeks that flow year-round and make beautiful mini waterfalls during the rainy season (November-March). This part of the park contains the remnants of historic lime kilns, including the remains of sites of 19th century industrial structures related to the limestone quarrying and refining and logging industries. There is also an 18-hole Disc Golf course ran by a local school (Nature Academy).

History

The area that is now Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was once inhabited by Ohlone. It was first colonized by the Spanish, and was partially logged by British and United States entrepreneurs, including Henry Cowell, who purchased 6,500 acres (26 km²) of land, including 1,600 acres (6.4 km²) of forest in 1865 and developed a quarrying and limekiln operation in the vicinity (see Fall Creek extension information above). A significant number of buildings in San Francisco were built using the redwood and limestone products from this area. In the 1920s, the owners of a large resort adjacent to Henry Cowell's holdings raised support for the County of Santa Cruz to buy and preserve their pristine redwood lands, an action finally approved of, in large part thanks to the work of California Lieutenant Governor William Jeter, in 1930. Eventually Samuel Cowell, aged 90, last of the Cowell line, donated the rest of what is today the park to the state, but only under the condition that Santa Cruz County also give up its portion of the land (Big Trees Park) to the State, so that it could all be managed together. Thus, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was officially created on August 18, 1954.

References

External links


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