|Austin Creek State Recreation Area is adjacent to
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve and is accessed through the same entrance. With
approximately 6,000 acres of open woodlands, rolling hills, and meadows, its topography
offers a strong contrast to the dense, primeval redwood forest below. Here you
will discover deep tree-lined ravines cooled by year round streams; grassy hillsides
burnished golden by the heat of summer sun and turned emerald by plentiful winter
rains; oak capped knolls that seem to float like islands on lakes of lowland fog;
and rocky mountaintops that offer glimpses of the Pacific ocean. A paradise for
the hiker and equestrian, Austin Creek rewards the explorer with twenty miles
of trails and panoramic wilderness views, back-country camping, and Bullfrog Pond
Campground- accessible by vehicle. The park's rugged topography, with elevations
ranging from 150-1500 feet in elevation, offers a sense of isolation from the
accustomed sights and sounds of civilization.
Be advised that vehicle access to the park and campground is by way of a steep,
narrow, winding, 2.5-mile-long, mountain road. For safety reasons, no vehicle
over 20 feet in length is allowed on this road. Vehicles with trailers or other
towed vehicles are also prohibited.
Day Use: $8
This wilderness area is home to a rich diversity of native animals and plants.
The springtime wildflower displays include Douglas iris, Indian paint brush, buttercups,
lupines, brodiaes, California poppies, and shooting stars. The grasslands, chaparral,
conifer, oak woodland, and riparian habitats of Austin Creek SRA are home to a
wild range of native animals including squirrel, deer, raccoon, fox, coyote, skunk,
bobcat, and an occasional black bear or mountain lion. Introduced species that
are commonly seen include feral pigs and wild turkeys. Bird life in the park includes
the colorful wood duck and the rare spotted owl. Other more frequently seen birds
include great blue herons, ravens, black-shouldered kites, California quail, various
woodpeckers, hawks, and flycatchers. Several aquatic species live in Bullfrog
pond including sunfish, black bass, and bull frogs. Trout, salmon, newts and salamanders
are found in the many streams. Licensed anglers may fish Bullfrog Pond but all
streams are closed to fishing to protect important spawning habitat.
A historic feature of Austin Creek SRA is the remaining buildings of Pond Farm
Pottery. This was the home, workshop, and school of the internationally renowned
ceramic artist, Marguerite Wildenhain, who settled here after World War II. Formerly
a student at Germany's famous Bauhaus school of design, Wildenhain enjoyed and
was inspired by the peace and natural beauty of this area.
Summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, although mornings can still be cool.
In the winter it will occasionally drop below freezing and the 50+ inches of annual
rainfall generally includes an occasional snow flurry. Always carry plenty of
water and wear layered clothing.
Facilities - Activities
Twenty-four family campsites are located near Bullfrog Pond. Campsites are
available throughout the year on a first-come, first-served basis. Tables, fire
rings, flush toilets and potable water are provided but no showers are available.
Back country primitive campsites are located at the Tom King and Manning Flat
sites. Each campsite has a table and fire ring. Pit toilets are located nearby.
A year-round stream is nearby, but this water supply must be purified before drinking.
Use of a micro filter is recommended. The primitive sites are available on a first-come,
first-served basis. A back country permit is required and can be obtained at the
Armstrong Redwoods park office during business hours.
Bullfrog Pond Campsite: $25
Backcountry Campsite: $25
Extra Car: $8
Ground fires are prohibited during periods of extreme fire danger, although
camp stoves can still be used for cooking in all but the most critical periods
of fire danger when camping is not permitted at all.
All of Austin Creek's trails are open to horses although horse trailers are
not permitted beyond the picnic area. Check with the park office for up-to-date
information about trail conditions. A horse riding and pack station concession
providing guided day and overnight trips is located 1/2 mile west of the Armstrong
Tree in Armstrong Redwoods State park.
Austin Creek Trail:
This is an unpaved service road that also serves as a trail, winding down the
canyon through meadows and groves of forest as it drops from 1200' to 300' in
elevation. After 4.7 miles, the road meets with Gilliam Creek Trail. A strenuous
but spectacular day hike can be experienced by hiking down the Austin Creek Trail
and returning via Gilliam Creek- approximately 9 miles round trip.
Gilliam Creek Trail:
This narrow, steep trail parallels Gilliam Creek as it winds through shaded oak
woodlands. After close to 4 miles it meets the Austin Creek Trail at the confluence
of East Austin and Gilliam Creeks. This trail is seasonally impassable at the
lower elevations due to high winter water levels in Gilliam Creek.
Pool Ridge Trail:
On this trail you will experience the dramatic contrast between the cool redwood
grove below and the open forest and rolling hills above in Austin Creek SRA. The
trail only drops 500' in elevation, however the upper portion is very steep. The
trail itself is 2.5 miles one way and can be used to access Armstrong Redwoods
State Reserve. It can also be used as a loop in conjunction with the East Ridge
East Ridge Trail:
This trail curves through the diverse and varied forests of Armstrong Redwoods
and Austin Creek as it spans the 4 miles and 1500' elevation between the park
entrance and Bullfrog pond campground. It can also be used as part of a loop by
hiking one way on this trail and returning via the Pool Ridge Trail.
|| Family Campsites
|| Hike or Bike Campsites
|| Hiking Trails
|| Horseback Trails
|| Campers (Max. Length) 20'
|| Picnic Areas