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Guide to Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve: Things to Know

Remote and unique, Montgomery Woods Reserve is home to some of the tallest redwoods in the world. It is one of the California's best hidden gems.

Montgomery Woods Reserve is a small, remote park with some of the tallest redwoods in California. It is also free to visit so don’t miss the opportunity.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the reserve to make your visit as enjoyable as possible.

Why Visit Montgomery Woods SNR?

Tourists frequently overlook Montgomery Woods Reserve, but it is one of California’s little hidden gems, especially if you are a fan of redwoods.

And of course, the old growth is the number one reason to visit the reserve. There is nothing like walking among these giants. 

With fern covering the ground and colossal redwoods rising to the sky, it feels like you have traveled back to Jurassic days. Everything around looks surreal and enchanting. 

Famous Redwoods in Montgomery Woods SNR

Montgomery Woods Reserve is home to a few famous redwoods that made headlines back in the 90s and increased the reserve’s popularity.

1) Mendocino

Mendocino tree is named after Mendocino County, where the reserve is located. It held the record for the tallest tree in the world from 1995 until 2000.

The tree’s location was held secret for some time to avoid a flood of tourists, but it no longer is. You can find the tree using these coordinates: 39.229417, -123.386833

Out of 3 trillion trees worldwide, Mendocino is the 11th tallest and the 1st tallest in Montgomery Woods. That’s impressive if you ask me.

2) Montgomery Giant

Montgomery Giant is the largest tree in Montgomery Woods Reserve but only the 4th tallest. 

It is famous not just because of its size but also because Mendocino (above) was spotted from Montgomery Giant by a climber.

You can find the tree here: 39.229140, -123.385600

3) Norman J. Hendry

Norman J. Hendry is the 20th tallest tree in the world. And the 2nd largest and the 2nd tallest in Montgomery Woods.

You can find it here: 39.228880, -123.387650

For more details on how to locate these giants check this website.

Where is Montgomery Woods SNR?

Montgomery Woods Reserve is situated in Mendocino County, California. 

The nearest city is Ukiah, about 15 miles away. Ukiah doesn’t have any redwoods, so Montgomery Woods SNR is the closest place to find old growth.

You can access the reserve by taking the Orr Spring Road if coming from Ukiah, or Comptche Ukiah Road if coming from State Route 128 or Mendocino.

Comptche Ukiah Road is fresh and in a good state, while Orr Spring Road is paved but tired, yet a lot more scenic. The choice is yours.

Address: 15825 Orr Springs Rd, Ukiah, CA 95482

Entrance Fees at Montgomery Woods SNR

Montgomery Woods Reserve is completely FREE to visit. You don’t have to pay any entrance or parking fees to explore the area. 

Parking in Montgomery Woods SNR

The car park at Montgomery Woods Reserve is relatively small; it only fits seven vehicles. Even during the weekdays, the parking gets full by mid-morning. 

Consider arriving early to secure a spot.

If there are no spaces left, you can park on the verge of the main road.

The Weather in Montgomery Woods SNR

Montgomery Woods Reserve enjoys a fairly mild climate compared to most of California. The temperature in summer rarely rises above 85F. And in winter, it usually stays over 40F. 

The rain season is between November and April. This is when the area becomes marshy and certain parts of the reserve can be flooded. Bring waterproof shoes if you are visiting in winter.

Best Time to Visit Montgomery Woods SNR

Redwood groves are magical at any time of the year but the best time to visit Montgomery Woods Reserve is probably late Spring

It is when the fern is spreading its leaves, and mosquitos are not as vicious yet; this provides for a more enjoyable visit.

Hiking Montgomery Trail

Montgomery Trail is the only hike in the reserve. It is a 2-mile loop with a steep ascent at the start that takes you through multiple redwood groves.

It is very well marked, and there are no crossroads or side turns, so you are unlikely to get lost.

The loop only takes an hour to complete, but multiple picnic spots provide an opportunity to have a pitstop and extend your stay.

The trail is easy, but fallen trees and a steep hill at the beginning limit disabled access.

Mosquitos of Montgomery Woods SNR

One of the most common complaints when visiting the reserve is mosquitos. These helicopter-sized bloodsuckers will eat you alive if you let them.

Hence, if you visit in the summer, bring a mosquito repellent; it will save you the annoyance.

Camping in Montgomery Woods SNR

Montgomery Woods Reserve is a small, day-use-only park, so camping is not allowed there.

However, there is one option right by the reserve – Orr Hot Springs Resort.  It provides camping (restricted days) and has rooms, yurts, and cottages to rent.

In addition to spending the night, you get to soak in thermal waters after hiking at Montgomery Woods. More info and booking here.

Apart from that, the nearest campgrounds are at Lake Mendocino, some 25 miles away.

And if you fancy a hotel, you can find plenty of lodging options at Ukiah.

Are Dogs Allowed in Montgomery Woods SNR?

No. Dogs are not allowed at Montgomery Woods Reserve. This is to prevent the dogs from disturbing wildlife and preserving the local ecosystem.

Can You Hunt in Montgomery Woods SNR?

No. Hunting is not allowed in Montgomery Woods Reserve.

However, the nearest hunting option is Mendocino National Forest.

Can You Fish in Montgomery Woods SNR?

No. Fishing is not allowed in Montgomery Woods Reserve. 

The nearest locations to go fishing are Lake Pillsbury in Mendocino National Forest and Lake Mendocino near Ukiah.

Final Thoughts

Although Montgomery Woods is small and remote, it is definitely worth visiting, especially if you are already in the area.

The fern and the giants make for an incredible atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else.

Other Locations in the Area: Mendocino National Forest.

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