Monday, 6 July 2015

Armstrong Redwoods SNR

We had a rather busy 4th of July weekend, but we managed to fit in one day for a hike. This particular hike was a long way from home - the Armstrong Redwoods SNR in Guerneville, CA. The drive up to Guerneville was quite a nice one, we took the long, scenic way in - north along Skyline, then drove along Ocean Beach, into SF and through the Presidio to join 101 near the Golden Gate Bridge. Even after crossing the GGB, our scenic drive continued - we got off the freeway just north of Tiburon, and then drove through the Sonoma wine country for some time before joining 101 again .. and we made good time throughout. Except at the very end :( - just a couple of miles short of the Armstrong Redwoods SNR, we had to take a right turn off a single lane road. Unfortunately, that single lane road led to the Austin Creek State Recreation Center, so we were stuck in traffic for quite a long time.

When we finally made it to the park, the ranger at the entrance was very helpful. I explained that we wanted to hike, so he suggested that we park in the free visitor parking lot instead of driving through and paying $8, and take a trail just behind the entrance. The Armstrong Redwoods SNR is like Muirwoods, without the crowds. The biggest difference, was that the creek was dry - the creek running next to the path adds a lot of charm to the Muirwoods hike.

We chose to take the flat trail - the East Ridge trail had a "steep" sign at the beginning, and hills can dampen a 5 y.o. very quickly. From the visitor center, we took the Pioneer Nature trail to the picnic area, past the Parson Jones tree and the Burbank circle. The Burbank circle is what the park called a "fairy ring" - a circle of redwoods growing from the roots of a dying redwood. You can see how the root system spreads out in the ground from some fallen redwoods.

On the way to the picnic area, we passed a hollowed out tree where we could clamber in - the space inside the tree was easily the size of a small room, and the 5 y.o. and I spent a fun 5 minutes there :). On the way back from the picnic area, we walked along the Pioneer Nature trail, took the right fork along the Armstrong Nature trail and reached the Colonel Armstrong tree. We didn't go to the Forest Theatre, but headed back along the Discovery trail.

Our final stop was at the visitor center, where there were stuffed birds and animals, as well as dead and mounted baby rattlesnakes and other creepy crawlies, very interesting stuff for a 5 y.o. armed with a magnifying glass :)

For families:
There are plenty of clean restrooms at the visitor center.

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