The drive to Hendy Woods in Mendocino County includes vineyards, ranches, fruit orchards, curvy roads and small towns. All of this beauty leads you to an 845 acre park with 120 acres of old growth redwoods and 5+ miles of level-ish trails. The park is completely shaded by the gentle giants and bays yet is open enough to let a breeze flow through. The Navarro River skirts the park and on a wet season will even overflow into the park!
Hendy Woods is a California State Park with some camping and easy trails with day use picnic areas that also drop you down to the river. This park is perfect year round! Need a little escape from the hustle and bustle of life but don’t want to go too far? Hendy Woods is perfect! Plus side is you can also go wine tasting after! Or stop in the small towns for fresh picked fruits and veggies or a little shopping. Hendy Woods is on the way to the town of Mendocino and would be a great stop to stretch your legs and walk among the gentle giants before you reach the beachside town!
Little Hendy Grove
We started our hike at the day use area and walked along the road just a bit until we reached Eagle Trail. Would highly recommend grabbing a map from the ranger or at the day use parking lot…we got a little lost on a couple of the trails and we had a map AND the AllTrails app! Some of the trails are well marked and some could use a sign or two on them. Eagle Trail leads you to the 40 acre Little Hendy Grove. Don’t let the name fool you! There are some ginormous trees in Little Hendy Grove!
Following along Little Hendy Trail we found the albino redwood! The last time we had visited the park, the ranger told us there was one in the park but we couldn’t find it. We’ve only seen a couple others, one up in Humboldt and one in San Francisco. The needles are almost a bright white instead of the usual dark green. So great to see the tree thriving next to its parent tree.
After seeing the albino redwood, we came across a group of 4 besties that are now joined together forever. At first glance from ground level it looks like a really huge redwood but when you look up you can see it is 4 trees that joined together forever! Oh the stories I am sure they can tell after hundreds of years being together watching all of us!
Being in this small redwood grove was amazing. Any worries we might have had before entering the grove had disappeared with the soft fresh air.
Azalea Creek Trail
We found Azalea Creek Trail and followed this up through bay and madrones, crossed the park road and continued up the hill. The tree canopy opened up on this side and more light was filtering in. The understory was dense and the trail was narrow but the bay leaves glowing from the sun rising behind them kept our eyes up and enjoying another kind of forest beauty!
The morning light also brought the heat of a mid-September day. Thankful for the breeze through the forest! From here we continued on to the Hermit Hut Trail.
Hermit Hut Trail
The Hermit Hut Trail is named after a Russian immigrant who lived in the park for 18 years under little huts made from tree limbs next to a tree and one under a fallen tree. Definitely take a moment to pause and read the stories that are on the trailside exhibit. We thought these were pretty great and at times wouldn’t mind selling all our possessions and living simply…maybe not quite this simply but definitely less than we are now!
We also ventured off on the short spur trail to check out the hut that was built under a large fallen redwood. Very clever!
Follow Hermit Hut Trail to All Access Trail and enter Big Hendy Grove.
Big Hendy Grove
We saved the best for last, Big Hendy Grove. the moment you enter the grove you can feel the air become more soft and calm. A light breeze may flow through but the air remains soft. Not sure how else to explain it. The trails are wide around the Discovery Trail and new bridges have been built to help with the winter rains. Fallen giants lay at the base of their friends that are still growing tall and strong. One day, the fallen will become more than just homes for critters but nutrients for the old growth redwoods that remain tall.
Follow the trail around to the upper loop where the gentle giants are spread out nicely with a lot of understory but not so much that you can’t see the ground. Our plan was to take the Back Loop…careful to not take the trail that goes up the hill toward the fire road! We did this and found ourselves with a half mile “wrong turn” to add onto our hike. It wasn’t a bad thing as we were able to see Big Hendy Grove from above.
Back on the Back Loop Trail we quietly walked along the path and soaked in every last drop of the beauty and amazingly soft air. We found our way on the Upper Loop and headed back toward the day use area. The forest light was amazing mid-day! The trees were so bright as just enough sun shines through the forest canopy to light them up but not so much that it beats down on your back. Big Hendy Grove was definitely a beautiful place to explore.
If all you have is a half hour, definitely pay the parking fees and drive down to the day use parking and walk around Big Hendy Grove. You will not be disappointed!
Toulouse Vineyards and Winery
After a gorgeous easy hike through the redwoods we treated ourselves to a stop at Toulouse Vineyards and Winery. This was the first time we had stopped at a winery in Anderson Valley and will not be the last! Not only do they have tasty wines but being able to sit out on the deck enjoying the views of Hendy Woods was a perfect end to our day!
We are already planning which winery to stop at next time we are in the area or are driving through. 🙂
Parking is $8 or a California Parks pass. Pit toilets are available at the day use area along with picnic tables. The 6.8 mile level trail is easy (more like 5.5 miles if you don’t get lost) and is mostly shaded. We used Redwood Hikes’ trail description for the hike as well as our AllTrails app to keep us on the right trail and track our miles. The nearest town is Philo but is mostly wineries. Food would be in Boonville or Mendocino.
Go ahead and giggle at all of our backtracking! We did!
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