You can explore the best redwoods near San Francisco on day trips or over a weekend road trip, but it should be on your San Francisco Bucket List for sure.

There are so many beautiful places to see the redwoods near San Francisco that it has taken me several fantastic trips to explore, admire, and fall in love with these ancient, mammoth giants that have so much to offer.

Whether you have never heard of what makes these trees special, or you have just had your first encounter with the magnificent redwoods, and now you are on a quest to find out more, you are in the right place.

What started as a chance trip on a weekend to a redwood forest turned into an an-obsession-of-the-sorts for me, which inspired me to create this guide.

This post is a detailed list of all the redwoods near San Francisco, categorized based on the driving distance, from within an hour to over four hours. 

It also includes the details of the best trails in each of the state parks and forests to find the redwoods, the camping details, and practical tips that will come in handy.

You will need a car as driving around is the best way to see some of California’s best redwood forests located hours away from SFC.

So let’s get this rolling so that you can make your picks of the weekend destinations to see the redwoods near San Francisco in California.

A BIT ABOUT THE REDWOODS IN CALIFORNIA

Redwoods are some of the tallest, largest and oldest trees in the world. 

Most of the ones found in California are among the tallest, and their average lifespan is at least 500 years old minimum, with a few of them even two or three thousand years old.

best redwoods near San Francisco

Redwoods have been on earth since the time of dinosaurs, which means they are at least a hundred and fifty million years old.

Let’s quickly get into the types of redwoods near San Francisco.

TYPES OF REDWOODS IN CALIFORNIA

There are three types of redwoods that can be found in the world. – Coast redwoods, giant sequoias, and dawn redwoods.

Only the coast redwoods and giant sequoias can be found in California. 

When you are exploring the redwoods near San Francisco, or anywhere in California, the most common giant woods you will come across are Coast redwoods.

redwood forest in san Francisco

Coast redwoods are found along the Pacific Coast, ranging from Central California to Southern Oregon. These are the only regions in the world where you will find Coast redwoods.

Coast redwoods can grow up to 300 feet or more. The tallest redwood tree, Hyperion is 380 feet tall.

You will see the giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada mountains, including Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park.

Note that, unlike the redwoods that are closer to SF city, you will have to drive for at least 4 hours if you want to spot giant sequoias, something to factor in while planning your California redwoods trip.

BEST REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO – WITHIN AN HOUR’S DRIVE

MUIR WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT

  • Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes
  • Driving distance: 17 miles
  • Entrance fee: $10 per person
  • Parking fee: $8.50, Shuttle: $5 per person

Camping Options: There are no campsites in Muir Woods, but the adjacent Kirby Cove Campground and Bicentennial Campground are both popular options.

One of the most popular places to see the best redwoods near San Franciso is Muir Woods National Monument, just a 35-minutes drive from the city.

redwoods near San Francisco

Established in 1908 and named after famous naturalist John Muir, this state park is known for its ancient redwoods anywhere from 600 to 1,200 years old, reaching 258 feet.

People across the Bay area can plan a quick day trip to Muir Woods, especially when traffic is light.

Muir woods is the best place for trampers as this offers many lovely trails, even for beginner hikers.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN MUIR WOODS

I recommend starting with the Muir Woods trail and the Bohemian Grove trail, which are 1.3 miles and 2 miles long. 

It takes about 30-45 minutes, where you will pass through the magnificent canopies dominated by the redwoods on these trails.

You may then branch out to more challenging pathways, my personal favourites, The Ben Johnson Trail, which is 3.4 miles long, and the Sun Trail, which is 4.7 miles long.

best redwood hikes near San Francisco

Dipsea Trail, which is 9.7 miles long, is for advanced hikers. Pack your bags with enough snacks and drinks since it will be exhausting. However, the breathtaking vistas of the redwoods and Stinson Beach will make you feel better.

HOW TO REACH MUIR WOODS?

Muir Woods is quite a popular place, and you need to plan well in advance since the site will be crowded. You need to make a reservation on the National Park Service website in 2018.

You can reach Muir Woods by driving a car or taking a shuttle. You’ll need to reserve a timed parking spot if you plan to go.

The Muir Woods Shuttle is run by Marin Transit and is available from May to October. The Shuttle requires reservations since it fills up quickly, especially on weekends and throughout the summer. It has multiple stops around the North Bay.

redwood forest san Francisco

If you cannot obtain a ticket through the Marin Transit website, you can choose a hop-on, hop-off Muir Woods Tour with a local tour operator.

However, this might be a pricey option, and you will have to pick up the pace with the operator since you generally get only 60-90 minutes at the park.

SOME THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT MUIR WOODS

  • There is no cell phone network coverage in the park, so plan your trip ahead of time.
  • If you’re looking for peace and solitude, this is not the redwood forest for you. However, if this is your first visit to the redwoods, it is worth visiting.
  • Muir Woods attracts one million people each year due to its closeness to San Francisco and ease of access.
  • The primary trail is relatively level, and hence it is a popular pick of the redwoods among the travelers. It features a visitor’s centre as well.

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?

The place usually is busier on weekdays, so arrive early in the morning to appreciate the redwood forest’s peace. On weekends and later in the day, it gets crowded.

TRANSAMERICA REDWOOD PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 20 minutes
  • Driving distance: 3 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $30
  • Camping: None

Transamerica Redwood Park is a redwood sanctuary in the financial district’s heart and one of the best redwoods near San Francisco.

are there redwoods south of San Francisco

It was constructed in 1969 and is a lovely half-acre park that is a favourite lunch destination for Union Square workers. It is recognized for its peace and calm and a fountain dedicated to Mark Twain.

REINHARDT REDWOOD REGIONAL PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 30 minutes
  • Driving distance: 18 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $5 per vehicle; $4 per trailered vehicle; $25 per bus

Camping Options: Anthony Chabot, Del Valle, and Dumbarton are the best spots for camping which you need to reserve online between 12 weeks and 48 hours ahead of your arrival time.

In the heart of Oakland is Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, one of the best redwoods near San Francisco and has the largest remaining stand of coast redwoods in the East Bay Regional Parks District.

day trip to redwoods from san Francisco

The site was a centre for logging activities in the 1880s but now is home to beautiful second-growth, 100-year-old coastal redwoods spread across 1830 acres.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN REINHARDT REDWOOD REGIONAL PARK

Within this park, you will get many trails (see them all here). You can create a perfect mix for yourself based on your interests and adrenaline.

You may even get to see empty trails if you plan to go early in the day.

Tres Sendas Trail is a 3.2-mile loop hike that is lovely and calmer than most of the trails.

If you want an immersive experience of ancient coastal redwoods, visit The French Trail Loop, a 6-miles loop hike.

old-growth redwoods near San Francisco

HOW TO REACH REINHARDT REDWOOD REGIONAL PARK

You can either drive by yourself or take public transportation to reach Reinhardt Redwoods Regional Park. It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Oakland to witness these iconic coastal redwoods.

You will see another 40 miles of hiking trails to jog or bike along. Enjoy horseback riding, archery, and mountain biking, admiring these Sequoias. 

My favourite spot within this park is the Chabot Space & Science Center, and it is worth a visit for space enthusiasts.

SOME THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT REINHARDT REDWOOD REGIONAL PARK

You will get to park free on Skyline Boulevard and Redwood Road, but ensure that your vehicle is thoroughly locked. You can go for paid parking at Roberts or Canyon Meadow.

ROY’S REDWOODS PRESERVE

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1-hour drive (25 miles)
  • Camping Options: None
  • Recommended Hikes: Roy’s Redwoods Loop Trail, Meadow Trail
  • Cost: Free! The preserve does not charge an entrance fee.
places to see redwoods near san Francisco

Roy’s Redwoods Preserve is offbeat, is one of the best redwoods near San Francisco and is located between San Rafael and Point Reyes in Nicasio.

It is only a short 35-minute drive away from Muir Woods and about a 1-hour drive from the North of San Francisco.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN ROY’S REDWOODS

The Roy’s Redwood Nature Trail is a 3.5-mile loop hike which is comparatively an easy hike that takes you around the old-growth redwood grove. 

Try the Dickson Ridge Fire Road, a 2.75-mile loop hike with an elevation change of 675 feet and the highest point of 1400 feet, making it uneasy. You will get a spectacular perspective of Mount Tamalpais, making your hike worthwhile.

drive through redwoods near San Francisco

Roy’s Redwoods is much quieter when compared to the oh-so-popular Muir Woods National Monument. Here you can enjoy the trails without the crowds. 

It is ideal for hiking, mountain biking, running, and picnics.

Dogs can also beat around the redwoods here, but they should be leashed.

OAKLAND REDWOODS

  • Distance from San Francisco: 20-minute drive
  • Driving Distance: 16 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee:$5 per vehicle and $2 per dog
  • Camping: No
  • Recommend hikes: The Redwood Loop, French Loop Trail

The Bay Area’s oldest redwoods dating back to the 1880s, Oakland Redwoods are among the closest and best redwoods near San Francisco.

Joaquin Miller Park, adjacent to Oakland redwoods, connects to form a beautiful network of criss-cross trails that go through the redwood-covered canopies.

best redwoods near San Francisco

The hikes here usually wind through undulating hills, bringing you from redwood floors to lush fern-covered slopes before ascending to sunny ridge paths adorned with Eucalyptus groves and Manzanita trees, with magnificent vistas of the whole Bay Area.

You can stay close to the redwood valleys or take the other courses to get a panoramic view of the redwoods.

I would recommend visiting this park in the early hours before 10 am to avoid the touristy buses. There is limited to no cell phone network coverage inside the park.

SAM McDONALD PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour
  • Driving distance: 48 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee:$6 per vehicle, $20 per bus

Camping options: Jack Brook Horse Camp and Youth campgrounds are the available options for camping. Not all locations can fit all lengths of trailers or RVs; check this before you book. Find prices here.

Sam McDonald Park, spread across 867 acres, is one of the best redwoods near San Francisco and has mixed woods and open meadows.

Located between La Honda and Loma Mar along the Pescadero Creek road about 11 miles east of the coastal town of Pescadero, it is operated by the San Mateo County Department of Parks.

best redwoods near San Francisco

One can appreciate the beautiful redwoods and the grassy slopes when here. Next to the park is Heritage Grove, a 37-acre lovely preserve with an old-growth grove. 

You can follow the Heritage Grove trail to witness these marvellous ancient redwoods.

This park is home to many varieties of animals. You can spot deer, bobcat, fox, raccoon, opossum, and some rare birds.

SAMUEL P. TAYLOR STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour
  • Driving distance: 40 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $8
  • Campsites: $35 per night

Camping Options: There are six campgrounds in the park, and you can check out the same and reserve them here.

Adjacent to the Point Reyes National Seashore protected area is Samuel P. Taylor State Park, a 600 acres of old-growth lush gorge redwoods. You can add these best redwoods near San Francisco as a day trip from Mount Tamalpais.

best redwoods near San Francisco

Recommended – 25 Best Hikes In Point Reyes National Seashore

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN SAMUEL P. TAYLOR STATE PARK

Beginner hikers can start with the 3-mile South Creek Trail, which follows Lagunitas Creek and offers beautiful vistas of the redwoods.

Pioneer Tree Loop Trail, which is considerably simpler and busier, is a 2.7-mile loop hike that takes you to a grove of old-growth redwoods.

If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, try out Devil’s Gulch Trail, which offers a mix of redwoods and beautiful views at the top of Barnabe Peak.

redwoods from san Francisco

Cross Marin Trail to Kent Lake is a 9.5-mile loop hike which usually almost takes an entire day. It has a 1300 feet elevation gain, so come prepared with enough drinks and energy bars to keep you hydrated.

After an adventurous hike at the Samuel P. Taylor State Park, if you still have some time, visit Cypress Tree Tunnel and Point Reyes Lighthouse, which are among the top things to do in Point Reyes.

WUNDERLICH COUNTY PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 40 minutes
  • Driving distance: 34 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee:$6 per vehicle, $20 per bus

Camping options: Though there are no specific campsites on the central premises of the park, Portola Redwoods State Park, Camp Butano Creek and Pillar Point RV Park are some of the top nearby camping options.

best redwoods near San Francisco

Next to Huddart Park is Wunderlich County Park, reminiscent of lush second-growth redwoods. 

The park has seven main trails, out of which one is an exclusive Redwoods Trail which is a 1.4-mile loop hike which makes it one of the best redwoods near San Francisco.

BEST REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO (UP TO 2 HOURS DRIVE)

BUTANO STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 50 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $10 
  • Camping: $35 per night
  • Camping Options: Available, With flush toilets, dishwashing station, water, and food lockers

Butano State Park is located near Pescadero, just a 1.5-hours drive from San Francisco and is one of the best redwoods near San Francisco.

It was established in 1957 to protect the old-growth redwoods from logging activities by the locals.

It is also a hotspot for hikers in San Jose and Silicon Valley.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN BUTANO STATE PARK

The best part of Butano is you will find hikes for all age groups and difficulty levels. You can plan a day trip or camp overnight amid an old-growth grove since the park is usually not that crowded.

Nestled in a tranquil gorge Butano State Park is blessed with 40 miles of hiking trails, many campsites, creeks, waterways, and wildlife. 

Butano Creek Trail is a just 2.1 miles loop hike recommended for most beginner hikers. Watch out for Banana slugs.

Try out the Jackson Flats Lopp trail, 5 miles long if you have more time.

best redwoods near San Francisco

Six Bridges Trail to Canyon Trail Loop is a 10-mile loop hike considered a more demanding hike. But the trail is covered with redwood canopies throughout, keeping the path cool and shaded for the hikers.

Check out Big Basin Redwood State Park, approximately 9 miles from Butano State Park.

HENRY COWELL REDWOODS STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 72 miles
  • Entrance fee:  
  • Parking fee: $10 
  • Camping: $35 per night

Camping Options: There are 107 reservable sites, but the campgrounds close in winter, so plan your visit accordingly.

One of the most popular state parks located in the Santa Cruz mountains is the Henry Cowell Redwoods state park which is popular among the students from UCSC.

This state park is about 4,600 acres and has a 100-acre grove of old-growth trees around 1,500 years old. The park is divided into Big Hendy and Little Hendy.

This park is one of the first redwoods preservation efforts in California.

One of the park’s distinguishing features is the presence of a Coastal Redwood, a Giant Sequoia, and a Dawn Redwood planted side by side at the entrance, where you can witness all the three giants in one sight.

You can stop by this one of the best redwoods near San Francisco while heading to Monterey Peninsula.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN HENRY COWELL REDWOODS STATE PARK

Nature lovers will admire this park for its impressive 30 miles of hiking trails with over 100 campsites. This park also has a famous swimming hole called the Garden of Eden.

Don’t miss the 0.8-mile Redwood Grove Loop Trail for a beautiful introduction to the area’s history and to step inside and click a pic of the famed Fremont Tree, which stands 280 feet tall and is around 1,500 years old.

If you have extra time and wish to take a short detour to Cable Car Beach, I recommend hiking the 4-mile Cathedral Redwoods Trail.

For more strenuous trails, visit the 5-mile Observation Deck Trail, which offers magnificent vistas of the Santa Cruz sandhills and lush forests of second-growth redwoods, ponderosa pines, and ponderosa pines.

If you want to challenge yourself and take a strenuous trail, go for Fall Creek, and Lost Empire Trail Loop is a 10-mile loop hike.

It is well-preserved and sheltered by redwood canopies all the way around.

Have you ever fantasized about riding a train through the woods? The Roaring Camp Railroad, located in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, offers a classic 1880s steam train trip through the redwoods. 

It is such an incredible experience in California that the kids and adults will fall in love with this ride.

Keep an eye for brilliant yellow banana slugs, which frequently appear on the route after it rains. They are a treasured component of the redwood trees around this area.

PACIFIC UNION COLLEGE FOREST

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Driving distance: 75 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $8
  • Campsites: $35 per night

Camping Options: None

The Pacific Union College is truly blessed with a paradise next to it, the PUC Demonstration and Experimental Forest.

This thousand-acre real find only opened recently to the public as a part of a conservation agreement with the state and the Napa open space district, is also a partner for the initiative.

The 35 miles of trails go through coastal redwoods, Douglas firs, ponderosa firs, and unusual indigenous plants like the Napa False Indigo.

best place to see giant redwoods near San Francisco

Hiking, Biking, or horseback riding are popular activities around this lush forest.

Don’t miss stopping at Inspiration Point for the most spectacular vistas. 

You could even be lucky enough to see Northern Spotted Owls nesting.

Head to Angwin, only a few miles north of the tiny Napa Valley wine-producing town of St. Helena, to get off the main road and explore this paradise.

ARMSTRONG REDWOODS STATE NATURAL RESERVE

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Driving distance: 77 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $10 per vehicle
  • Closest City: Santa Rosa

Camping available: Not within the park, but there are campsites nearby at Bullfrog Pond Campground and Schoolhouse Canyon Campground.

In the Sonoma County town of Guerneville, Armstrong Woods is one of the less-visited and best redwoods near San Francisco.

You will find 805 acres of Coastal Redwood trees.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN ARMSTRONG REDWOODS STATE NATURAL RESERVE

For beginner hikers, I would recommend the Pioneer Nature Trail, a 2- mile loop hike where you can see spectacular redwoods and many varieties of flora and fauna.

You may plan an entire 4-mile loop hike by combining Pioneer Nature Trail with the Armstrong Grove Loop, a little under 2-miles.

East Ridge and Pool Ridge are two moderately difficult hikes with a high elevation rise leading to vantage positions over the redwood grove for those searching for a more strenuous hike.

best redwood parks near San Francisco

Don’t miss the most admirable feature of this beautiful Sonoma redwood forest, the ancient trees, which have histories attached to them. Here are some interesting things to know about the trees:

  • Colonel Armstrong is the largest and oldest tree in the park, aged 1,400 years old. It was named after a lumberman who contributed to the park’s preservation in the 1870s.
  • The Parson Jones Tree, the park’s tallest tree, stands 310 feet tall. The park entrance is only 0.1 miles away from this tree.

PURISIMA CREEK REDWOODS PRESERVE

  • Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes
  • Driving distance: 30 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: Free

Camping options: There are several camping sites near Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve, but the top ones are Portola Redwoods State Park, Camp Butano Creek, San Francisco RV Park and Pillar Point RV Park.

Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve is one of the best redwoods near San Francisco, blessed with second-growth redwoods about 100 years old.

redwoods near San Francisco

It is located between Redwood City and Half Moon Bay. It is one of the easily accessible redwoods near San Francisco, offering a spectacular view from the top of the mountains, especially when covered with moss. 

The closest entrance to these sequestered redwoods is off Skyline Boulevard. Dogs are not allowed inside this park.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN PURISIMA CREEK REDWOODS PRESERVE

Several hiking trails in the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve are only appropriate for experienced hikers. 

But if you are a beginner hiker, you can enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains even halfway through the hike.

Serious hikers can try tackling the North Ridge Trail, which is 8.8 miles loop hike and gains an elevation of 1,400 feet.

Dogs aren’t allowed in this preserve.

PORTOLA REDWOODS STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 50 miles
  • Entrance fee: $5
  • Parking fee: $10 
  • Camping: $35 per night

Camping Options: Available, Multiple campsites (Portola Redwoods and Slate Creek) nestled along Pescadero Creek.

Closest City: Between San Jose, Mountain View, and Santa Cruz

To the North of Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the Portola Redwoods State Park which is 2,800acres and is one of the best redwoods near San Francisco. It is a short drive away from San Jose and many cities in Silicon Valley.

Portola Redwoods state park has around 18 miles of hiking trails and over 50 campsites, making it the perfect place for a day trip destination and an overnight stay.

Recommended – 15 Top Hikes In Santa Cruz For a Perfect Weekend Getaway

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN PORTOLA REDWOODS STATE PARK

Expect a magical trip since the trails mainly consist of shady redwood forests, streams, huckleberries, ferns, and maybe waterfalls.

You will see a 300 feet tall, aged about 1,200 years, a magnificent giant called the Old Tree. The trail gets its name from this tree-the Old Tree Trail, a 1.2-mile loop hike.

The 1.5-mile loop hike Sequoia Nature Trail will introduce you to the area’s natural history. 

Dip in the Tiptoe Falls in the 1.5-mile loop hike on the Iverson Trail.

For rugged hikers, the 11.9-mile loop hike to Peters Creek Grove is one of the best hikes in the Bay Area, where you will find some of California’s most distant redwoods.

Slate Creek is another trail which is considerably more accessible, but it is not that attractive since logging operations have been done here.

The park has no mobile coverage, and the next gas station is 14 miles distant at Sky Londa.

MEMORIAL COUNTY PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1.2 hours
  • Driving distance: 54 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee:$6 per vehicle, $20 per bus

Camping options: Memorial Park has two Family Camping Areas on the central premises of the park. Details are further down below.

Memorial County Park is only a short distance from Sam McDonald Park and has old-growth redwoods. 

You will get through Pescadero Creek while you are at this park. It serves as a winter habitat for steelhead trout, and they usually migrate upstream to spawn before returning to the sea in the spring.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN MEMORIAL COUNTY PARK

I recommend hiking the Sequoia Trail to see the park’s giant redwood tree. Creek Trail is wonderful in early May and June when the azaleas are fully flowered.

CAMPING OPTIONS

Azalea Flat and Sequoia Flat are the two camping options in the park, each with 126 campsites that may accommodate up to eight people. 

The main campground has are three different kinds of the campsite:

  • No trailer (NT) sites; $30/night + $13 ($7 reservation fee + $6 park entrance fee)
  • Small trailer (ST) sites for RVs up to 18 feet; $35/night + $13
  • Large trailer (LT) sites for RVs up to 35 feet; $40/night + $13.

Note: There are no RV hook-ups at the park.

BIG BASIN STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 1.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 70 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $10 
  • Camping: $35 per night
  • Camping Options: Available, Multiple campsites 

***Big Basin is partially open now as per the latest updates. Find more information and updates here.

If you are looking for a weekend hiking getaway from San Francisco, San Jose or Santa Cruz, you are lucky. 

redwoods near San Francisco

You may visit Big Basin, established in 1902, California’s oldest state park and home to the most prominent strand of ancient coastal redwood trees.

This 1,800-acre state park, which spans from the Santa Cruz mountains to the Pacific Ocean, is one of the best spots to observe redwoods 1,000 to 1,800 years old near San Francisco.

You will be astonished to see some of the giants in this park which are more than 50 feet in circumference.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN BIG BASIN STATE PARK

With almost 80 miles of trails, Big Basin offers a wide range of hiking opportunities.

Skyline to the Sea Trail, a 4-mile loop hike with spectacular views of Sempervirens Falls, is one of the most popular hikes in the Big Basin.

Don’t miss The Redwood Loop Trail, a 0.6-mile point-to-point trek that offers a solid introduction to the park and contains some of Big Basin’s most giant trees.

If you’re looking for a more challenging climb, check out the 10.5-mile point-to-point Berry Creek Falls Trail with a 2,150-foot elevation change with giant coastal redwoods and four waterfalls.

There are a variety of fantastic redwood hikes in Big Basin — search for trail information here.

REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO (MORE THAN 2 HOURS DRIVE)

MONTGOMERY WOODS STATE NATURAL PRESERVE

  • Distance from San Francisco: 2.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 130 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $10
  • Camping Options: None

Montgomery Woods, 2,743 acres of a majestic coastal redwood state park located about 2.5 hours North of San Francisco, is one of the best redwoods near San Francisco.

It started as a nine-acre reserve donation by Robert Orr in 1945 and slowly enlarged to its current area by several purchases and donations from Save the Redwoods League.

A 367.5-foot redwood tree was long supposed to be the world’s tallest, but taller trees have since been discovered at Humboldt Redwoods State Park to the North, although Montgomery Woods is still known for its towering giants.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN MONTGOMERY WOODS STATE NATURAL PRESERVE

The two-mile-long Montgomery Trail is the major trail which can be split based on your plan.

I would recommend climbing one-third mile on the Montgomery Trail to the spectacular Kellieowen Grove, including a 200-foot elevation increase that might take an hour or a little more. Picnic on the banks of Montgomery Creek.

Hike the whole two miles of Montgomery Trail if you have a half-day to view the creek, beautiful fern-covered forests and several groves of breathtaking redwoods.

CALAVERAS BIG TREES STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 2.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 156 miles
  • Parking fee: $10

Camping Options: Availablethe North Grove and Oak Hollow, Two group campgrounds, and Two environmental campground areas where pets are not allowed. These campsites are generally available from May to September.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, about 100 miles southwest of Sacramento, is one of the most accessible all-season spots to see the best redwoods near San Francisco.

The North Grove of the park recalls the tale of the “Discovery Tree,” a giant sequoia that fell in the 1850s.

According to legend, counting the rings on the trunk took five men 22 days and led them to assume the tree was 1300 years old.

Augustus T. Dowd discovered the gigantic redwoods in this location, and by 1853, tourists were flocking to the Calaveras North Grove.

North Grove is the park’s longest-running visitor attraction in California that preserves two groves of Giant Sequoias.

You will get to see the Stanislaus River, Beaver Creek, ancient volcanic formations, natural meadows, and the giant old-growth redwoods.

Don’t miss the museum where you get to learn about the local fauna. Also, watch two short documentaries featuring gorge redwoods.

You may reserve a campsite or a tent spot in advance at one of the two main campsites. 

You will get to see flowering dogwoods blossom throughout the spring. The busiest season is the summer, so be early to get ahead of the crowds.

MARIPOSA GROVE, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 3.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 170 miles
  • Entrance fee: $15 per person, valid for seven days
  • Parking fee: $30 for a motorcycle suitable for seven days

Camping: Wawona Campground– all year, during summer, you can camp at Hodgdon MeadowBridalveil Creekand Tuolumne MeadowsRV campsites are also available.

Yosemite National Park is, without a doubt, one of the most famous natural wonders of the world.

With its towering elevated granite cliffs that create the faces of El Capitan and Half Dome, breathtaking waterfalls that appear to thunder down from the air, and a large, fascinating valley, Yosemite National Park is a must-see if you live in the United States.

Did you know that Yosemite National Park is America’s 3rd oldest national park and is also blessed with some of the largest and oldest redwoods in the world?

Mariposa Grove, located in Yosemite’s southernmost section, has about 500 mature giant sequoias, also called Sierra redwoods, and it is one of the best redwoods near San Francisco. The journey will be worthwhile.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN MARIPOSA GROVE, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

I recommend starting with a relatively flat 0.3-mile loop hike on the Big Trees Loop Trail at the Mariposa Grove Arrival area that makes its way past the renowned Fallen Monarch.

If you are a serious hiker looking for a more challenging trek, tackle the Mariposa Grove Trail. This 7-mile loop hike takes you past the famous sequoias, including the Faithful Couple and the Clothespin Tree.

After this arduous hike, you will reach the famous Wawona Point, which gives a panoramic view of the redwoods.

best redwoods in California

SOME THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO MARIPOSA GROVE, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Since the park is becoming more popular, there is now a reservation system to keep the crowds under control.

If you can’t get a reservation, consider joining a guided group trip from San Francisco, including transportation to and from the city. It also involves a stroll through the gigantic sequoias.

BEST REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO (MORE THAN 4 HOURS)

These forests and state parks are ideal for a weekend trip rather than a day trip since they are not near the city per se.

JEDEDIAH SMITH REDWOODS STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 6.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 350 miles
  • Parking fee: $8 Day use fee at Smith River Parking
  • Camping Options: Jedediah Smith Campground

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is located 30 minutes drive away from the Southern Oregon coast and about a 6.5-hours drive from San Francisco.

best redwoods in California

The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to one of the world’s densest gigantic redwood forests. This forest has 7% of the old-growth redwoods aged about 1000 years old.

Take a little detour to know more about these giant old-growth redwoods on the Stout Grove trail, leading you to Jedediah Smith Park home.

HUMBOLDT REDWOODS STATE PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 4 hours
  • Driving distance: 220 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $8 

Camping options: Available, can be checked here

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is home to old-growth coastal redwoods that cover 1/3 of the park’s 55,000 acres and are one of the best redwoods near San Francisco.

You’ll discover some of the state’s densest redwood forests and some of the most significant redwood-lined roadways, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts dating back to the early 1900s.

best redwood forest near San Francisco

Avenue of the Giants is a famous 32-mile driving stretch to spot redwoods, and you can go through the Shrine Drive Through Tree. 

Ensure that you pick up the auto tour brochure at the Humboldt Redwoods Visitor Center to learn more about the giants.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN HUMBOLDT REDWOODS STATE PARK

There are over 100 miles of hiking trails in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. 

Founders Grove is a 0.5-mile hike which is an easily accessible trail.

Bull Creek Loop is a bit of a challenging hike, about 15 miles.

Don’t miss the 0.6-mile Rockefeller Loop trail, which leads to the world’s most extensive contiguous old-growth redwood forest.

redwoods in san Francisco

The 1.7-mile Drury-Chaney Loop, 2.2-mile Johnson Prairie Trail, and 10.5-mile Johnson Camp Trail are among the most popular treks in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Include Founder’s Grove, the fallen Dyerville Giant, Williams Grove, Flatiron Tree, and Gould Grove on your drive to spot gigantic redwoods.

Take a refreshing plunge in the beautiful Eel River, running beside the redwoods.

HOW TO REACH HUMBOLDT REDWOODS STATE PARK

You may drive along US Highway 101, passing through San Rafael, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and several other charming cities.

Otherwise, you may travel along California Highway 1 for 7-8 hours, which is worthwhile if you have the time.

REDWOODS NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS

  • Distance from San Francisco: 5.5 hours
  • Driving distance: 315 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $10
  • Camping: Available, $35 per night, can be checked and reserved here

If you’re looking for a weekend trip from San Francisco, head to Redwoods National and State Parks, which run 40 miles along the California coast just south of the Oregon border and feature Northern California’s tallest redwood trees.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park are among these parks managed together by the National Parks Service and the California State Parks Service.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is blessed with the old-growth forest and the Roosevelt elk in the prairies between the redwoods.

The largest (but not tallest) Coastal Redwood tree may be seen in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

The Del Norte Coast features a significant population of old-growth redwoods and a beautiful beach.

If you want to drive to see the redwoods, drive through Howland Hill Road, Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Cal-Barrel Road, and Davison Road.

TRAILS TO FIND THE REDWOODS IN REDWOODS NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS

Start with the 0.5-mile Trillium Falls Trail, which is considerably easy.

The Lady Bird Johnson Loop Trail, 1.5-mile and the Simpson-Reed Trail, 1-mile, can be completed in a half-day.

The 2.5-mile Prairie Creek Foothill Trail Loop might take a bit of a day since you will be astonished to see a mix of Roosevelt elk and the gorge redwoods.

CARBON CANYON REGIONAL PARK

  • Distance from San Francisco: 7.2 hours
  • Driving distance: 416 miles
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking fee: $3 weekdays / $5 weekends

Camping Options: Available, Caspers Wilderness Park and O’Neill Regional Park

A 10-acre grove of coastal redwoods, the biggest in the state’s southern section, may be found in Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Orange County, California.

This grove was established in 1975; therefore, the trees are just a few decades old and significantly smaller than those found in Northern California.

There are 200 coastal California redwoods on the 2.5-mile Carbon Canyon Nature Trail.

BEST REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO – DRIVE THROUGH FORESTS

There are no drive-through redwood forests within a 2-hour drive from San Francisco. Most of them are far further north.

Below are a few of them to look out for if you plan to drive. All of them are privately owned, located along US Route 101 and you must pay to drive through each one.

CHANDELIER TREE

The Chandelier Tree is about three hours north of San Francisco in Leggett, Mendocino County. The tree is located in a private redwood forest.

redwoods near SF

Most cars can fit through the tree except for mobile homes and cars towing trailers.

You may go to the park or just pay to drive through the tree. The park is located at 67402 Drive Thru Tree Rd, Leggett, CA 95585.

KLAMATH TOUR THRU TREE

If you drive 6 hours North of San Francisco you will arrive at The Klamath Tree, popularly known as Tour Thru Tree and is the second most popular drive-thru tree tour.

It has a width of nearly 7 feet and a height of around 9 and a half feet, making it suitable for heavier trucks.

The most excellent aspect about this park is that it is open all year and there are several souvenir stores nearby. You may picnic with your friends and family all day.

MAP OF REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO

WHAT TO PACK FOR SEEING THE REDWOODS IN CALIFORNIA

GENERAL ITEMS

CLOTHING

The temperatures can be foggy during the day and they drop at night as the breeze increases. 

As with camping anywhere, you need to be prepared for the unpredictability by going with many layers. Here’s what you need:

CAMPING ESSENTIALS

Here are some of the camping essentials you will need:

Camping essentials for preparing food:

The best one I’d recommend is this Outdoor Master Cook Portable Folding Camp Kitchen along with this Light Weight Cook Ware and Backpacking Gas Stove Burner.

OTHER ESSENTIALS

Even if you aren’t into photography, you may want to bring a camera with a good lens. 

I own a Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70S that I carry while camping since I prefer lightweight gear instead of my Nikon D850 which I use regularly. 

TIPS FOR VISITING THE REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO

Here are some of the things to know while hiking Santa Cruz.

Camping needs reservation – If you want to camp, make reservations ahead of time, months before if possible to secure a spot as some of these book up months in advance in the summer and holiday weekends. 

Cell Service is not great everywhere – On some hikes, there is limited or no cell service, so it is best to plan accordingly.

Download maps for offline use – Due to limited cell service and inaccurate GPS, it may be difficult to navigate. It is best to carry offline or physical maps wherever possible.

Carry cash, and snacks – Some places may not accept credit cards, especially in parking lots. So carry cash. Also, there is an entry fee for many redwood parks. Carry sufficient snacks like protein bars, fruits and nuts for munching as there are no amenities.

redwood in san Francisco

Stop at the local visitor centre first – Before starting your trails, make a stop at the visitor centre, to pick up maps and check about current trail conditions and recommendations with the rangers.

Check for road closures and forest fires – Due to forest fires, some trails get closed. It is best to check online for information about the current status of the hiking trails before you plan your trip. The same goes for roads if you are driving in the area.

Carry layers – It is surprising how many underestimate or do not take into account the chilly evenings in the redwoods. No matter what time of the year, dense forest trails and mountain top areas are cold and windy as the evening sets in. So make sure to carry a warm wind jacket with you.

FAQS ABOUT THE REDWOODS NEAR SAN FRANCISCO

What is the best time to visit the redwoods near San Francisco?

Although you can visit the redwood forests any time of the year due to the temperate climates, spring, summer, and fall are the best months to see the coastal California redwoods. 

Because during these months, there is almost no chance of rainfall, and the temperatures are slightly higher, which is ideal for hikes.

Avoid going in the winter to visit the redwood forests near San Francisco as trails are wet and slippery and roads may be closed.

How far are the redwoods from San Francisco?

You can find redwoods located as further as over 7 hours driving distance away, but most redwoods near San Francisco can be found between a 30-minute drive from the city to a 4 hours drive and are perfect for self-guided tours.

Are Redwoods Only in California?

The combination of heavy summer fog and moderate temperatures allows redwoods to flourish in California. Ancient coastal redwoods are found only on the West Coast of the US in North America. 

Beginning in southwest Oregon, they grow along the Pacific coast until down the coast to Big Sur, California, including Washington.

How big are California redwoods?

Redwood trees are the largest trees in the world that can grow over 300 feet tall and up to 30 feet in diameter near the ground.

Are sequoias the same as redwoods?

While sequoias and redwoods have a lot in common and are often referred to interchangeably, they are different.

The two have some distinct physical differences. Giant sequoias are the biggest trees globally with thick trunks, and redwoods are the tallest trees in the world and are slender. 

California redwoods, or the coastal redwoods, grow along the Northern California coast. At the same time, Sequoias are native to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and they need higher elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet and the dry heat of the mountains.

While Giant redwoods can live up to 2,000 years, giant sequoias outlive them, living up to 3,000 years. 

TOP TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES

Below is the list of the travel resources you can use to organize your travel – from flights to insurance and everything. These are the resources I use myself, which is why I recommend you for a hassle-free travel planning experience and fantastic trips.

Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Jet Radar, Kiwior 12go.Asia (for Asia planning). Book and fly mid-week, taking red-eyes flights or those in the early mornings for better deals and lower prices. Avoid check-in bags on a budget airline.

Booking Trains: The best websites for booking trains anywhere in Europe are Rail Europe and TrainLine. Both are easy to manage online and track your journeys.

Booking Cars: For the best prices and easy handling of renting a car for road trips and day trips, I’d recommend Discover Cars or Rental Cars, available throughout the world.

Accommodations: I typically use HotelsCombined or Booking.com to book hotels. There are special getaway deals with amazing discounts(over 50%!) for this year on Booking.com, and you can find them here.

I use Hostelworld and Agoda to book hostels as the deposit is low, easy change/cancellation is available and reviews are excellent on both. Depending on the destination, I love staying in VRBOs/homestays.

Travel Insurance: No matter whether it is a short trip or longer trips abroad, I strongly recommend buying travel insurance for international trips. I recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance.

Tours: Being a solo traveler, one of the best ways to optimize my time, budget, and super importantly, meet amazing people from all over the world is by joining tours, especially food tours, walking tours, day trips, culture, and history tours.
You will get a local’s perspective, the best opportunities to experience places and people closely. I book using GetYourGuideKlookViatorand Voyagin.

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Reshma Narasing

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