The Armstrong Redwoods is an 805-acre natural reserve which houses the beautiful sequoia trees native to Northern California. These trees are not only the tallest living thing on our planet but can live for up to 2000 years which completely blows my mind. We accidentally came across the reserve when looking for somewhere to run this weekend and it actually ended up being the highlight of our trip; funny how the things you plan the least often end up being the best!
We were in Guerneville for my birthday and the most important thing on the agenda was wine tasting. I had read briefly about the Redwoods but I had no idea how incredible this reserve was. Fortunately, I wanted to start my birthday with a run and asked the hotel concierge if there were any trails nearby. She told us to head down to the Armstrong Redwoods, and we were more than happy to have followed her advice, especially given it was only a 5 minute drive away from our hotel.
The reserve has endless trails and after asking for some advice at the visitor centre we decided on a 6 mile loop with 1200ft elevation. The run inevitably ended up longer due to a few accidental detours and I don’t think I’d quite comprehended how hard the elevation would be until I was out running. Typically unprepared as usual…
Our run started at the visitor centre where you’ll find useful information about the Redwoods. Even if you just want to go for a short walk, it’s the perfect place to start as there’s an easy, flat trail called the Pioneer Nature Trail where you walk among the redwoods and see the oldest tree in the grove, the Colonel Armstrong tree, which is thought to be 1400 years old.
Our loop took us along the Pioneer Nature Trail, Discovery Trail, Pool Ridge Trail and East Ridge Trail. The trails aren’t hugely well signposted so we got lost a few times; the most infuriating time was after running up a trail which must have climbed about 800ft elevation to then take the wrong path which took us all the way back down again. It was a long slog back up and after that we started checking the map incessantly! I’d definitely recommend wearing trail shoes if you’re running here – we were just wearing our normal trainers and could have done with some more grip as the surface of the trails were really loose and sandy.
Despite being there on a Saturday the trails were really quiet and most of the time we were running by ourselves which was lovely. It was so relaxing and calm to run amongst the Redwoods which have been standing there for hundreds or thousands of years. It’s amazing and humbling to think of everything they’ve lived through and makes you realise how insignificant you are!
As we climbed higher we moved away from the Redwoods and were rewarded with the most stunning views over the reserve. We couldn’t believe we nearly missed it!
The sequoias are a must- see on any tourists itinerary so if you’re heading to the wine region, I’d definitely make a detour to check out the Armstrong Redwoods. I’m hoping to take Bex there when she visits later this month, although perhaps we’ll just walk this time!