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Big Basin is back! Find all the best places to see redwoods near San Francisco

Muir Woods is the most famous place to see redwoods near SF, but there are many other impressive groves. | Gabrielle Lurie/SF Chronicle via Getty Images

How better to celebrate Earth Day than with the reopening of redwood groves at one of California’s most beloved state parks? 

Big Basin Redwoods State Park partially reopened to the public last month following extensive damage from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in August 2020 and flooding from recent rains.

“I cried my first day back after the fire,” said Debbie Martwich, senior visitor service aid at the park that sits about an hour’s drive from San Jose in the Santa Cruz mountains.  “Miraculously, 97% of the redwoods survived! The regrowth is amazing. There is green everywhere.”

The Big Basin redwood forest shows signs of regrowth after the 2020 fire. | Courtesy Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Lucky for visitors, the two best places to see Big Basin’s big trees are in areas that have been reopened: the Redwood Trail and the North Escape Road. Rangers are trying to keep crowds in check by requiring online parking reservations to enter the park.

Big Basin is near the top of the list of locals’ favorite places to walk, hike, picnic or just sit among the world’s tallest trees in their natural environment: California’s coast redwoods are native only within 50 miles of the Pacific Ocean.

While tourists flock to Muir Woods, there are many equally impressive and less crowded spots around the Bay Area to see these trees, including Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin, Armstrong Redwoods in Sonoma County and Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, just a short drive from Downtown Oakland.

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park offers trails through the trees in the Oakland Hills. | Sarah Holtz/The Standard

And though redwoods have been planted in parks across the state—with several lovely groves in the city of San Francisco itself—consider a day trip to see and smell these stunning trees standing in the coastal fog where they belong.

Best Places To See Redwoods in the San Francisco Bay Area