AAA/Greg Weekes
AAA Editor Notes
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve is about 13.5 mi. w. via Orr Springs Rd. or about 30 mi. e. of Mendocino via Comptche-Ukiah Rd. (the jct. with SR 1 is just s. of the bridge crossing the Big River). The journey alone to reach Montgomery Woods—along a narrow, two-lane paved road that dips, bends and winds through a thickly forested section of Mendocino County's Coast Range—makes it a truly off-the-beaten-path destination for those who appreciate the primeval beauty of a redwood forest.

Less extensive than better-known and easier-to-get-to Muir Woods and Armstrong Woods, Montgomery Woods is what is known as a climax forest, where trees and plants like laurel, tan oak, ferns and wild iris grow beneath towering coast redwoods and giant sequoias. The Montgomery Woods Trail, a 2-mile loop, follows Montgomery Creek and links five redwood groves featuring impressively large trees in an area that was never logged.

From December 2000 until August 2006 the Mendocino Tree, a coast redwood, was the tallest known tree in the world at 367.5 feet (a lightning strike lopped off the top). More sunlight pierces the dense tree canopy here than at Muir Woods, enabling a lusher and more riotous understory of vegetation to thrive. The lack of crowds makes a very rewarding hike for those who relish solitude.

Note: The road to the reserve is well maintained but rough in spots. The small parking area is signed but easy to miss and has space for about seven vehicles; make sure your car is locked and don't leave valuables in sight. There is a very basic restroom at the lot and a wood gazebo with picnic tables at the trailhead. During the winter and spring months parts of the loop trail may be covered by water.

Picnicking is permitted. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.

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