Family Hiking Milestone: 13 Miles at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

It's been four months, since our milestone hike:


with our toddlers.  I think I have emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually have come to grips with it.  Believe me this isn't our normal deal when we hike with our toddlers but we were meeting up with some Twitter Hiking All Stars: 

Russ Beebe ~ Winehiker Witiculture

Paulina Dao ~ Little Grunts


David Wherry ~ Hiker Adventures


Yes, it rain a few times in California this year.

My husband had been captive to his cubicle for a couple of weeks, so an 8 mile hike sounded like a good time and a good workout since we knew we would have to carry the kids most of the way.  My daughter can barely hike 1/2 mile but my son had hiked up to 5 miles in the past, so we planned to carry them quite a bit.  Nothing that we haven't done before hikers pace vs. non-kid hikers is completely different, primarily in how fast/slow one hikes.  Either way we were up to the challenge.

It was a rainy day (WHAT?!) in the San Francisco Bay Area, as we headed out to Felton in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The second we started hiking in the rain, I had immediate flash backs to hiking in the Peruvian Andes and it put me in a great mood.  Our kids hardly ever hike in the rain, but of course they enjoyed splashing in the puddles.

Russ, Paulina and David were in the front of the pack and we were in the back.  Our kids like to play the "in-and-out game" for the first hour of hiking, until we encounter an uphill they don't want to hike.  I can't remember all the details of our hike, now four months behind me but the things that stood out in my mind were:

  • Green ~ Everything was GREEN!  The Bay Area, especially the East Bay is brown ahem...golden most of the year and only turns green during the winter rains.  In this severe drought year, there was only like a 4 week period where water was flowing in our seasonal creeks and everything was green.  It was really refreshing.
  • Big Ben Tree ~ Not really too much to say about this except show pictures.

The whole familia fits inside Big Ben. Photo Courtesy of

Little Grunts


Getting to 13 miles....

We all were having a blast enjoying snacks, resting, taking pictures and eating that we took a little wrong turn due to so many fallen trees on the trail as well as many trail markers were destroyed or removed (see WineHiker comments below).  We realized our mistake 2.5 miles out from where we should have taken our trail, putting us at 5 miles added onto our 8 mile hike.  A 13 mile hike isn't all that difficult as a day hiker, but when you have 30-50 lbs of human plus snack, water and gear every step is well....hard.  I think I really earned my hamburgers and fries that day.

I'm smiling but I'm crying inside! Photo Courtesy of

Hiker Adventures

Well, there was nothing we could do but hike and hike as fast as we could because the winter daylight was short.  I don't know what happened with my children, I think God answered my prayers as we hiked along that kids wouldn't have a meltdown.  With a steady flow of candies, I mean snacks...water, being carried, singing, hand holding, my two and four year old made this 13 mile trek at Henry Cowell Redwoods.  At one point my husband carried both our toddlers because they both wanted Daddy to hold them.  Russ turned to me and said "Is that fair?" and I said, "I carried them for 9 months each, 1 mile won't kill him."

Oh by the way, did I tell you we calculated that our son hiked SEVEN of the THIRTEEN miles!

That's my boy!

I don't know what else to say about this hike, it was beautifully hard but worth every minute. It was a great family hiking milestone that we got to share with some great people.  What stands out the most in my mind now, is that the next day as my husband and I laid on our living room exhausted, Mr. David Wherry was running across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Oh someday, we will no longer be kid-carrying sherpas!  More pictures please and pass the cheese....

Group effort to get across! Thanks David and Russ!! Photo Courtesy of

Little Grunts


Lime Kline left overs....

Fun Times!

These niños....

Trail Report Detials

Who: Five Adults, Two Toddlers

Family Friendly: Very Difficult (due to distance)

Mileage: 12.9 miles, 13+ with extra walking around

Elevation Change: 2625 ft

Trails Description: Pretty much up a mountain and back down.

Trails: Bennet Creek Trail - Fall Creek - South Fork - Cape Horn - Lost Empire - Big Ben Tree (Not the Trail, the actual tree).  We continued onto Lost Empire Trail, instead of taking Big Ben Trail for the added five miles.  Continue onto Big Ben Trail and take Fall Creek Trail all the way to the Parking Lot.

I'm glad I know what my family is capable! What is your family's hiking limit? 

Related Links and Posts:

  1. Henry Cowell State Park: Big Ben Loop #winehike by Little Grunts
  2. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Wine Hike by Hiker Adventures
  3. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park ~ California State Park Website

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