Hiking the Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

I turned 28 on a quiet evening in the Sierra Club Hiker’s Hut. The next morning, we woke up to  fog and the slow pitter patter of rain on the wooden hut. Josh had class in the afternoon and I had plans to curl up in bed for a lazy birthday. We packed up all our things to head back home.

Instead of retracing our steps, we opted for the Heritage Grove trail instead.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

Sam McDonald County Park is a little known gem. Heritage Grove is home to some magnificent old growth redwoods, some of the largest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. These enormous trees were threatened by logging, but were saved by redwood enthusiasts who banded together to purchase the grove.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

The Heritage Grove Trail begins a tenth of a mile outside the door of the Ollie Mayer Hiker’s Hut.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

From the hut, this hike is about 3.7 miles back to park headquarters. As a loop from the Heritage Grove trailhead or park headquarters, it’s just under 5 miles.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park Grove Sam McDonald County Park

The first section departing the Hiker’s Hut takes you through forest heavily dominated by oak trees. It’s a little underwhelming.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

As the trail winds down the side of the mountain, more and more redwoods begin to appear. At first, it’s just one or two. Then suddenly, there are faerie rings of trees, everywhere you look.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

When the Heritage Grove Trail intersects with the Big Tree Trail, take that trail as it climbs up to Towne Fire Road. Despite the name, there is no definitive Big Tree on this trail, just rings of large, old growth redwoods.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

Once we set foot on the Towne Fire Road, we retraced our steps back to the car.

Hiking Heritage Grove, Sam McDonald County Park

After hiking in the rain all morning, we were ravenous and ready for lunch. Thanks to Kleenex Wet Wipes that are always in the car, I was able to make myself look and smell mildly presentable before rejoining civilization.

Kleenex Wet Wipes

I’m a big fan of the Sensitive wipes for my ridiculously finicky face and the Gentle Clean for everything else, including grubby hands and sweaty pits.

The Kleenex Wet Wipes are Made for Doers. Find them at Target, online or in the facial tissue aisle. Each pack retails for $1.49. They are perfect for refreshing while you are on the go.

Hiking Heritage Grove Sam McDonald County Park

For other redwood hikes in the area, try Peters Creek Loop, Purisima Redwoods Open Space Preserve, or Big Basin Redwoods State Park.