This is the essential loop at Portola Redwoods State Park. In just over six miles it ascends two ridges and stops in on the most impressive old-growth redwood in the park.
It starts out near the park headquarters, climbs up Coyote Ridge, descends to Peters Creek, climbs again up the Slate Creek Trail, then descends via the Summit Trail, and takes a side trip to the Old Tree, which is 297 feet tall, 12 feet across and estimated to be over 1,000 years old.
The climb up Coyote Ridge is fairly steep; just take your time and enjoy the walk. The hike up Slate Creek Trail is more gradual but it's still a healthy climb. And the Summit Trail descent is a bit of knee grinder.
So there's plenty of challenge, all under a shady redwood canopy that makes this great route any time of year.
Trails on this hike: Sequoia Nature trail > Iverson Trail > Coyote Ridge Trail > Slate Creek Trail > Summit Trail > Old Tree Trail.
Be sure to take enough water and snacks along to keep your energy level up.
Call the park to make sure it's open before you go.
Portola Redwoods is also accessible via the Pomponio Trail and Camp Pomponio Road Trailhead at Pescadero Creek County Park, and the Ward Road Trail from Long Ridge Open Space Preserve.
Park contact: 650-948-9098
Hours: Call the park
Parking: $10 per vehicle
Driving directions: From Highway 35, turn west onto Alpine Road, go 3 miles and turn onto Portola State Park Road. On Highway 35, Alpine is just over 19 miles south of Highway 92, seven miles south of Highway 84 and just over 6 miles north of Highway 9. Page Mill Road from Palo Alto goes directly to Alpine.