Northern California Camping Summer 2012


First Pitch

Nothing rings in summer like cutting out of work early to embark on a camping trip. Here are a few great ways to make the pitch!

Hendy Woods State Park cabin

Hendy Hankering

Far back in Anderson Valley lies an ancient redwood forest that few ever see. Hendy Woods State Park is an absolute gem in Mendocino County with 92 campsites and four small, stand-alone cabins. If your idea of camping is a roof over your head, opt for a cabin. Huckleberry and Wood Rose sit side-by-side, Puma is wheelchair accessible, and Ring Tail next door sits deepest in the campground. There’s no electricity and the double-person bunks don’t include mattresses, so bring everything you would for camping (minus the tent). A wood-burning stove can keep things toasty, but with summer temperatures ranging from the 60s to the 90s, you probably won’t need one. The 845-acre park is home to two redwood groves along the flats of the Navarro River: Big Hendy and Little Hendy. Spend a day relaxing on the riverbanks or take a 1.6-mile (round-trip) walk among 300-foot coastal redwoods on Big Hendy Grove’s Upper Hendy Loop Trail.  This was the home of the Pomo people for thousands of years, and more recently the “Hendy Hermit”, a Russian immigrant who built a hut from a fallen redwood and resided there for more than a decade. Hike to the hermit’s abode and crawl inside for a glimpse into his life. You'll appreciate your bare-bones cabin back at camp all the more.

BONUS: Like so many of California’s amazing state parks, Hendy Woods is threatened with closure. On July 11, Kris Kristofferson will headline a benefit concert in Mendocino. Visit for more information.

Camping at Hendy Woods State Park is $35 per night. The cabins are $50 per night. Make reservations through or call the park directly at 707-895-3141 to inquire about availability and cancelations. The Puma cabin is wheelchair accessible. The campground is dog-friendly!

Haypress Camp Marin Headlands

Headlands Doubledown

Leaving work at 5 p.m. on a Friday and pitching a tent an hour later may seem like a stretch…unless you’re camping in the Marin Headlands. Two excellent hike-in campgrounds offer quick escapes to the great outdoors. They also make a great introduction for first-time backpackers. Tucked in the northern part of Tennessee Valley and surrounded by gently sloping headlands, Haypress Camp (pictured) has five simple campsites reachable by a 1-mile walk from the parking lot. Pick a site beside a eucalyptus grove and see how many quail and red-tail hawks you can count. Hawk Camp, the second hike-in option, is a longer hike-in at 2.5 miles (one-way). It’s a gradual grunt from Tennessee Valley up the Marincello Trail before dipping to Gerbode Valley. Hawk Camp has just three sites, all with a distant ocean view. As a reminder that this bit of nature isn’t far from the city, San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid pokes over the green and tawny hills.

To make a reservation call 415-331-1540. There are no fees for Haypress or Hawk Camp. No water is available at the sites so be sure to pack your own. Here's a map of the Marin Headlands. No dogs.

Portola Redwoods Slate Creek Trail Camp

Slate of the Union

Portola Redwoods State Park is scheduled to close on July 1st, which means there's only 31 more days to enjoy it. This treasure in the Santa Cruz Mountains is about as remote as you can get in the Bay Area. A twisty road descends for miles to this tiny but mighty park. Most people stick close to the park headquarters. But venture in just 3 miles and discover Slate Creek Trail Camp's six secluded campsites. A highlight of this backcountry camp is its proximity to Peters Creek Redwood Grove—a forest of enormous virgin redwoods that somehow dodged the logging operations of the 19th century. From camp, it's a 2.4-mile hike (one-way) to the grove—where thousand-year-old redwoods can get up to 12 feet in diameter. In this neck of the woods being in the red is wonderful—and well worth saving from closure.

BONUS: Learn what you can do to help save our state parks from closure by visiting California State Parks Foundation.

To reserve a spot at Slate Creek Trail Camp, call 831-338-8861. Campsites are $15 per night and there's an additional $5 reservation fee. Directions: From park headquarters, get on the Old Tree Trail. After a couple hundred feet, make a left onto Slate Creek Trail. Stay on Slate Creek Trail for 2.4 miles, which takes you to the trail camp.

What's Shakin'?

Have you heard about the recent shift in activity at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park? Earthquake is a new exhibit and planetarium show that’s shaking things up with incredible interactive highlights that are both informative and entertaining:

Buckle Up: Fly over the San Andreas Fault and dive into the Earth’s core in the immersive planetarium show.

Shaken and Stirred: Experience a high-magnitude jolt in an earthquake simulator.

Seismic Chick: Meet live ostrich chicks and learn their surprising connection to earthquakes.

It’s a Small World: Walk through a 25-foot-diameter model of the Earth, exploring its surface and interior.

Daily programs explore myths and misconceptions about earthquakes, how earthquakes impact evolution, and ways you can prepare for the next one. Beat the quake-rush: get your advance tickets at

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