Redwood Forest California USA

The Redwood Forest

At least once in your lifetime, you need to visit the magnificent coastal Redwood Forest in San Francisco California, USA.

The Redwoods (Sequoia Trees)

The California trees people actually call “redwoods” two distinct species, both of them best described in superlatives.

Walking tunnel through the sequoia tree.
Walking tunnel through the sequoia tree.

Sometimes called simply the “big trees,” giant sequoias (sequoiadendron giganteum) grow only in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains toward the state’s eastern border. The most massive living things, they can reach 280 feet tall and 23 feet across. The largest rise a little more than 300 feet and spread almost 30 feet across. The oldest have been around more than 3,000 years.

The coastal redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest living things on our planet, growing 300-350 feet tall and 16-18 feet across, with record specimens soaring 360 feet. They are the primary trees in the redwood forests that grow from near the California coast from the northern border down to Big Sur.

Redwood National Forest

Redwood Forest
Redwood Forest

Several redwood forest state and national parks are administered jointly, together preserving almost half of the old-growth redwood forests remaining. You’ll find five visitor centers, four campgrounds, and plenty of things to do.

The Ladybird Johnson Grove, just off US 101, offers a fairly easy one-mile walk through a redwood forest full of the tall trees.

At the same time, just 12 miles north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods is an easily accessible redwood forest. It offers three hiking loops with well-groomed trails most anyone can manage.

Looking up in a Redwood Forest
Coastal Redwood trees on the Coast of California. Looking up in a Redwood Forest

Meanwhile, the Mariposa Grove is Yosemite’s largest redwood forest, home to specimens of giant sequoias. It’s about 4 hours’ drive east of San Francisco. In the mountains south of San Francisco between San Jose and the town of Santa Cruz, this redwood forest stood in for Muir Woods in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo. It’s much less crowded than Muir and has some nice tent cabins where you could spend the night in the middle of the redwood forest.

The Most Giant Sequoia Trees

Sequoia National Park is the place to go if your goal is to see the very biggest giant sequoia trees. Rangers give frequent guided walks that will help you learn about the redwood forests.

Redwood national park, pathway through the redwoods giants
Redwood national park, pathway through the redwoods giants

The largest living things make their home in Sequoia’s redwood forests where you’ll find the world’s largest tree General Sherman and the only-slightly-smaller General Grant Tree. Why not hug a tree today at the Redwood Forest.

(Also visit: Yosemite National Park)