Richardson Grove State Park is one of California’s first redwood parks. In 1922, it started as 120 acres, and has since grown to 1,800. Thanks to redwood tree ambassadors, there are redwoods today. During the peak of the goldrush, California coast redwoods (trees that live for thousands of years and stand at over three hundred feet tall) were logged into near extinction. Only 5% of the original old-growth coast redwood forests remain, but at least they are protected for future generations to marvel. We walked the Interpretive Trail, which parallels the 101, otherwise known as the Redwood Highway. The consistent sounds of trucks, RVs, cars and motorcycles are almost a distraction from the beauty of the redwoods, but it is also a reminder of a time lost. When the park was created there were about 14,000 cars on California roads.
The Interpretive Trail runs in both directions from the visitor center, which is located in the original 1930’s Richardson Grove Lodge . The old lodge is as close as it can be to a treehouse while being on the ground. Nestled amongst huge redwoods, the details of its construction were not lost on us. The basins of the drinking fountains are made of carved wood, as are the rain gutters. It is a work of art.
One of the giant redwoods that tower over the old lodge is hollow, and full of Yuma bats and their babies. Decades ago you used to be able to walk through the tree but now scientists know that if the mothers are disturbed they will abandon their roost (and their young). If you wait for a pause in the noise pollution, you can hear the colony of bats.