Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, which is located a short drive north of Guerneville, about halfway between Santa Rosa and the Pacific Ocean. It is truly a magical place. In Santa Rosa it was hot and sunny, and the air was dry and somewhat polluted due to the lack of rain. In the redwood grove, the air is moist and fresh, and the atmosphere is so still and peaceful that you really feel like you are entering into another dimension. It is such a great place to go to shift your perspective and clear your head. You feel like a babe in the woods because the trees are so big. The best part is, it’s free (most state parks charge about $8 to park as a sort of entrance fee, which is well worth it considering what you get in return). You can leave a donation at the visitor’s centre before going in though.
The trees in this reserve are commonly known as coast redwoods but they are actually Sequoia sempervirens trees. Most of the area was covered in these trees before logging operations began in the 1800s. The ancient coast redwood is the tallest living thing on our planet – most of them live to be 500-1,000 years old, grow to a diameter of 12-16 feet, and stand from 200-250 feet tall. Some trees survive to over 2,000 years and are over 350 feet tall!
There is a short 1.7 mile trail that loops around the park and passes all of its main features including an outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails, and different picnic facilities. There are also longer and more strenuous trails with elevation of up to 3.3 miles within the Armstrong Reserve, or for the more ambitious, you can start here and then hike into the rolling hills, forests, and grasslands of the adjacent Austin Creek State Recreation Area.
After relaxing in the stillness of the reserve for a while, my friend and I kept driving towards the coast as I wanted to go to a scenic overlook over the Pacific that we had been to before and really loved, but it was SOOOOOOOO windy and cold there we had to beat a hasty retreat (sorry I forgot to take some photos – my fingers might have had early stage hypothermia by then too and I wouldn’t have been able to operate my camera anyhow!!!)! It continually amazes me how different the temperature and winds are when I leave the area around Santa Rosa and head to the coast!
Instead we stopped in Jenner by the Sea, which feels like it is on the coast, but technically it overlooks a river, so it is a lot less cold and windy (yay!!!). Jenner is a sweet little town very close to where the Russian River meets the Pacific.
We sat on a picnic table and enjoyed these views while dining on a selection of the best vegan food Trader Joe’s had to offer that evening – crusty sourdough baguettes with California Estate extra virgin olive oil, raw sauerkraut with pickles, an avocado, and curried kale and cauliflower salad – yum!!!
What a lovely excursion that was! Thank you for stopping by, dear reader!