Lonely Planet Writer

California is getting a new public redwood park

California has long been associated with the majestic redwood trees, being one of the few places in the world where you can still see ‘nature’s skyscrapers’ for yourself. Now hundreds of old-growth redwoods are being preserved and turned into a public park.

Pristine unnamed creeks run through Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve. Photo by Mike Shoys, courtesy of Save the Redwoods League

The Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve in Sonoma County is a 730-acre forest that, up until this week, was the largest old-growth redwood forest still in private ownership. Save the Redwoods League acquired the property for $9.6 million with the hope of building hiking trails and turning it into a public park within the next three years.

The reserve is 30% larger than Muir Woods National Monument, one of the most popular spots for seeing redwoods. One tree on the property is estimated to be an incredible 1640 years old and the area provides a vital habitat to numerous species of birds, fish and animals.

A waterfall in the new reserve. Photo by Mike Shoys, courtesy of Save the Redwoods League

The reserve is named for Harold Richardson, whose family have owned the reserve since the 1920s. Despite being a logger, Richardson conserved the oldest trees and harvested the younger ones only selectively, leaving behind hundreds of acres of almost-pristine forest for future generations.

“It’s as if we’ve discovered an ancient civilization; an oasis of towering redwoods hidden from public view for over a century,” said Sam Hodder, CEO of Save the Redwoods League. “We are grateful for the Richardson family’s foresight in stewarding this forest with such care and allowing us the opportunity to save it. The League envisions stewarding this property as a public park in the future for all to enjoy — the first new old-growth redwood park in a generation.”

The forest will now be preserved for future generations. Photo by Mike Shoys, courtesy of Save the Redwoods League

The League is celebrating its centennial this year and this is its second major acquisition in the last few months.