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Jug Handle State Reserve Trailhead
Jug Handle State Reserve Trailhead

Maps: at the trailhead

Access: No wheelchair or stroller access

Local tip: eliminate the headlands loop, cutting a mile off the trip through the giant coastal redwoods to the pygmy forest.

Visit the grove dedicated in 1990 by the Redwood League: Isabel Budi Hazen and Selma Martschei Budi Grove – 1990.  Learn more.

Jug Handle State Nature Reserve, just five miles south of Fort Bragg, is the rarest of hikes.  Within a 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase where you can see both giant California redwoods and pygmy trees.

Some trees found in the 70-acre Hans Jenny Pygmy Forest Reserve grow nowhere else in the world.

Along the trails you’ll see signs of old growth Northern California redwoods (huge stumps), groves of second growth redwood forest (still very tall), large Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock.

“The watershed of Jug Handle Creek holds a rare natural phenomenon— an “ecological staircase”—that attracts scientists and nature lovers from all over the world. The staircase is composed of five terraces, each about 100,000 years older and about 100 feet higher than the one below it,” according to California State Parks.

These are a big contrast to the pygmy forest where you’ll find 100-year-old trees that are a mere 5-feet tall – victims of poor soil that pervades this highest terrace.

A one fourth – mile board walk leads you through the pygmies with a stop mid-way where you rest, enjoy the quiet or have a picnic.


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