Hendy Woods State Park is a state park of California, United States. It is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and preserves part of the watershed that feeds Lake Shasta. The park consists of 9,300 acres (3,740ha) of land and 2,600 acres (1,100ha) of water mainly on three lakes: Lake Britton, Lake Woodruff, and Big Pond. There are more than 30 miles (48km) of trails open to hiking or mountain biking through dense redwood forest with an understory of madrone, Douglas fir, tan oak, and at least 150 other species of plants.
The park also has extensive picnic facilities including group picnic shelters and individual picnic sites. Facilities for swimming, camping, cabins, golf course, equestrian center, and camp store are available. The park’s visitor center features interpretive exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area. Hendy Woods was one of 70 parks due for closure in 2012 due to budget cuts, but was saved from closure. However, staffing levels were greatly reduced, and many of the grounds around the park remained unkempt and overgrown.
In 2013, a new management company was hired to oversee park maintenance and operations. Despite these efforts, by 2014, significant damage continued to occur to both the park and surrounding environment. A massive fire burned thousands of acres in September 2017, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes. According to initial reports, two firefighters died in the blaze. Nearly 1,000 structures, mostly residential, were destroyed by the fire which took place just before the fall harvest. While much of the forest survived, large areas near the park had been stripped bare.
Over 300,000 people visited the park in 2016; down significantly from previous years. Because of this decline in attendance, along with rising costs associated with fighting fires each year, the park closed again on June 3, 2018. After several months of being open, Hendy Woods once again became closed to the public on December 19, 2018.
When reopening, visitation would be restricted to those with passes obtained from the park office. Hendy Woods’ primary attraction remains its forests of redwoods, which provide a habitat for rare birds such as the spotted owl and black-tailed deer. Among the most notable wildlife seen at the park are the lake trout, which reach record size of up to 250 pounds (110kg). These fish can grow to great age, some living well into their eighties. Osprey nest in the old timberline, feeding upon marine foodstuffs after hatching and remaining there until they are ready to leave for the ocean. They return to spawn each year. Lake Britton offers excellent fishing opportunities for anglers looking to catch rainbow trout, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead, kokanee, smallmouth bass, sunfish, northern pike, and sturgeon. Rainbow trout and brown trout of record size have been caught in the lake, with bream, crappie, perch, and catfish common prey items.
Canoeing is another way to explore the inland waterways of Hendy Woods. Eighteen miles (29km) of coastline are accessible via boat launch ramps, providing access to the Pacific Ocean. Campsites range from modern yurts to tent campsites to rustic cabin sites. Backcountry camping is allowed in specified parts of the park, away from roads, trails, and bodies of water. The park contains four trailheads, offering nearly 30 miles (48km) of multiuse trails open to hikers, cyclists, horses, and all-terrain vehicles. Some of these trails connect Hendy Woods with Castle Crags State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and even further afield, Tomales Bay State Park.
The park’s network of dirt fire roads also make it ideal for motorized use, with ATV riding permitted throughout the entire park. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park, shaded by coast live oaks and redwoods. Group picnic shelters may be reserved for private events. The park includes five nonreservable group picnic shelters. One hundred campsites are designated for RVs/Trailers, 60 of which have sewer hookups. Half of the campsites are pet friendly. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through Reserve America. Tent and RV sites without utilities are also available.
Many of the campsites offer hot showers, although others do not. Two lodges built in the 1950s house groups of dormitory style rooms for overnight visitors. Each lodge has kitchen facilities and indoor plumbing. No credit cards are accepted. Reservations must be made in advance and paid for at the time of booking. The park has seven cabins, ranging from one to three bedrooms in capacity. All cabins are fully furnished, heated, air-conditioned, and supplied with bath and bed linens, basic cooking implements, and TV. Laundry services are provided at a cost of $10 per load, which is charged separately when washing machines are used.
Only registered guests are able to utilize the full complement of cabin amenities. Non-registered individuals who wish to spend the night in a cabin must purchase a permit, which allows you to stay in any of the park’s cabins for up to seven days in a row. Permits cannot be purchased online, only at the park offices. Horses are welcome on certain trails and in some of the park’s campgrounds. Dogs are not permitted on the trails or in the campgrounds. Hendy Woods provides excellent birdwatching opportunity, especially during autumn migration.
Birdwatchers should look out for pileated woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, hermit thrushes, ovenbirds, warblers, wrens, cardinals, bald eagles, loons, kingfishers, owls, and ospreys. Several different varieties of poison oak grow within Hendy Woods State Park. Poison oak causes a rash and itching sensations if touched, so caution must be taken when handling plant material. If ingested, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and low blood pressure. White-tail deer are a common sight, as are raccoons, black-tail deer, gray foxes, wild turkeys, and occasionally mountain lions. Bobcats inhabit the remote reaches of the park, and sightings of them are extremely rare. Black bear and yellow-bellied marmots are found less often, and neither of these animals will cause harm unless provoked.
Hendy Woods has many miles of fire road where ATVs ride side-by-side with cars, trucks, and motorcycles. This creates a unique opportunity to learn how traffic affects vegetation. Fire suppression activities take place annually in selected sections of the park, removing approximately 40,000 cubic yards (34,000 m) of dead trees and other brush. This process helps prevent wildfires, which threaten the survival of the redwood forest ecosystem. Approximately 230,000 cubic yards (200,000 m) of lumber is harvested from redwoods in Hendy Woods every year, with sawmill operations running continuously since 1876. About half of the logs are exported, with the remainder being cut into lumber products like plywood, veneer, oriented strand board, and construction materials. Logging takes place primarily in the spring, with harvesting starting in March and ending in October.
Other animals include:
- gray foxes
- black bears
- river otters
- cottontail rabbits
- tricolored owls
Mammals observed at the park include:
- mule deer
- black-tail deer
- kit foxes
- striped skunks
- sea lions