Into the Wild
As enjoyable an experience as it is, a quick ride through Navarro River Redwoods State Park won’t be enough to please the most passionate nature lovers. If you seek a more intimate experience with these riverbanks and redwoods, park in one of the many dirt pullouts along Route 128. From these access points, trails will guide you into a recovering second-growth forest. Look for the stumps of monster trees logged long ago to get a sense of the magnificent specimens that once grew along these banks. While you’ll no longer find any ancient, old-growth redwoods here, try a few miles down Route 128 at Hendy Woods State Park, on Philo-Greenwood Road, just beyond Philo Apple Farm. Montgomery Woods is also home to some impressive giants that are among the tallest trees on Earth.
But second-growth forests have their own charms, like the amazing phenomena of fairy rings. This fantastical term refers to a circle of redwoods growing around the stump of a dead or logged tree. The new trees, which are often clones of the dead parent, latch on to the old stump and root system to take advantage of the nutrients. The result, a tight circle of tall, straight trees, resembles the stuff of magic.
While traipsing through Navarro River Redwoods State Park, birders would be wise to keep their eyes peeled for egrets, ospreys and belted kingfishers. Racoons are likely to be foraging about, and closer to the coast, at the mouth of the Navarro River, you’ll have the opportunity to spot harbor seals, river otters, sea lions and on rare occasions, a pod of killer whales that hunt out at sea. Steelhead and salmon also migrate upstream in the winter to spawn.
Although there are two campgrounds located along the Navarro River (one in the park’s redwoods and another at Navarro Beach) unfortunately both are closed until further notice. But if you’re planning to camp, there are still many amazing options – try the previously mentioned Hendy Woods, or one of the state parks on the Mendocino Coast, like Russian Gulch, Van Damme or MacKerricher.