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A Walk Among Giants in California

Kel on the trail, among the Armstrong redwoods

Embark on a journey with me to the awe-inspiring Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Northern California. Tucked away in Sonoma County, about 75 miles north of San Francisco, this 805-acre reserve offers a peaceful retreat into an ancient coast redwood forest where towering trees have stood for centuries.

As I wander the winding trails with Kel for the first time, I’m captivated by the sheer size of these magnificent trees, the world’s tallest. This is a story of first-time discovery in a forest that feels timeless.

Kel on the trail, among the Armstrong redwoods
Kel on the trail

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

Getting There

Kel and I departed downtown San Francisco for Sonoma in a rental car on a beautiful spring morning.

We drove north across the Golden Gate Bridge before connecting with California State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), and visiting Bodega Bay for brunch.

We then turned east, driving inland on Route 116 through the Russian River Valley until we hit the town of Guerneville. From there, we turned north onto Armstrong Woods Road, which led us to the park entrance in a matter of minutes.

Driving into Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Northern CaliforniaDriving into Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Northern California
Driving into Armstrong Redwoods

I was instantly in awe at the towering redwoods as we followed a silver Porsche with California plates past the Visitor Center to a parking area with a group picnic area and restroom facilities.

The cost to enter Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve with a vehicle is $10. It’s essentially a parking fee and a small price to be surrounded by such wonders of the natural world.

About the Redwoods

Before humans walked the Earth, redwood trees covered Europe, Asia, and North America. In California alone, there were about two million acres of coast redwoods. However, due to natural climate change, their range shrank significantly.

Today, redwoods are limited to just three small regions, two of which are in the United States:

  • Southern Oregon to Central California is home to the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), the world’s tallest tree. These trees enjoy abundant fog and can grow to 350 feet and more!
  • California’s Sierra Nevada boasts giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), the world’s largest tree by volume (with trunks as wide as 40 feet).
  • Central China has the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), the only deciduous redwood, meaning they lose their leaves annually.

California’s virgin redwood forests were further reduced by man’s lust for lumber in the 19th century. An…

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