Hiking the 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.
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.
The Heritage Grove Trail begins a tenth of a mile outside the door of the Ollie Mayer Hiker’s Hut.
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.
The first section departing the Hiker’s Hut takes you through forest heavily dominated by oak trees. It’s a little underwhelming.
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.
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.
Once we set foot on the Towne Fire Road, we retraced our steps back to the car.
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.
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.