Tucked away in between towering redwood trees and historic logging communities, Felton is a wonderful vacation spot especially for those who love outdoor activities and small-town charm. Felton welcomes guests seeking a quiet escape in an old-growth forest near Santa Cruz.
From serene redwood hikes to wooden covered bridges and exciting steam train rides, there are plenty of adventures awaiting you in Felton!
In our guide, we share 12 of the best things to do in Felton, California that you can easily manage in a few days. In this list, you’re bound to find something exciting for everyone in your family!
1. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is situated at the perfect spot in Felton for outdoor adventures. There are a variety of trails to choose from that span across 4650 acres of protected redwood lands.
There are several ways to access Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park:
- The main visitor area is located by the N Big Trees Park Rd Parking and it costs $10 to park here for the day.
- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground offers easy access to attractions on the East side of the park like the Observation Deck.
- If you’re planning to purchase tickets for the Roaring Camp train, parking comes included and is located at the Roaring Camp parking lot.
- Some visitors park along Highway 9 and walk 1-2 miles into the park.
If you’re craving a lesser-known hike, the 4-mile out-and-back trail to Cathedral Redwoods is a great choice.
This trail leads to a younger cathedral grove within Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park where once ancient redwood trees stood. These younger trees have grown in a loop that looks like a perfect circle especially if you look up at the treetops.
Other Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park highlights include:
- Roaring Camp
- Redwood Grove Loop
- Cable Car Beach
- Garden Of Eden
- Overlook Bench
- And many other hiking trails
2. Roaring Camp
Roaring Camp is one of the main attractions in Felton that was created to resemble an old logging village. From here you can easily access Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and combine a trip to both within the same day.
All year long you can buy tickets and go on train rides through an ancient redwood forest. This forest was originally purchased in 1867 for logging but the family decided to protect the trees instead and it became the first redwood preserve in the United States.
The Roaring Camp is a recreation of railroads and steam locomotives that were used for logging trees in the 1800s. The train ride is about an hour long and goes through an old-growth forest with trees dating back 10,000 years.
The train travels to the top of Bear Mountain along one of the steepest grades built in North America. Once it reaches the top, the train reverses back down to the starting point.
With an expert engineer that has been in charge of this excursion for nearly 50 years and a fun tour narrator dishing our interesting facts about the redwoods, this is a great activity for the entire family!
After the train ride, you can roam around the charming western-style town and visit some of the main town buildings like the Sheriff’s office, print shop, blacksmith office, and general store.
If you have extra time, you can also walk over to the train tracks and see some of the biggest wooden train trestles in the US.
Location: Roaring Camp
3. Redwood Grove Loop
If there is one hike that you should do in Felton, it’s the Redwood Grove Loop Trail. This trail passes through a 40-acre old grove forest with some of the tallest tree species in the world. While many of the region’s redwoods have been logged in the early California settlement days, this grove has been protected and admired since the 1800s.
The Redwood Grove Loop Trail is only 0.9 miles long and flat so it’s a wonderful option for families and little kids. If you want to extend the hike, about halfway through the loop this trail connects with many other hikes at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Some of the redwood trees in this grove are over 2000 years old and 300 feet tall. As soon as you enter the grove, the temperatures significantly drop and you can feel the stillness of the redwoods all around you. Near the trailhead, you can see a display with one of the oldest coastal redwoods that was over 2200 years old.
At the beginning of the Redwood Grove Loop, you can scan your phone for a QR code that will pull up an electronic guide of the trail’s main attractions.
The largest tree in this grove is called The Giant that is over 270 feet tall and 17 feet wide. The Fremont Tree is another unique redwood tree along this trail that has a hollow trunk with an interior cave where visitors can walk inside.
Trailhead Location: Redwood Grove Loop Trail
4. Fall Creek Unit & Old Lime Kiln Ruins
The northwest section of the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is part of the Fall Creek Unit that has over 20 miles of rugged hiking trails. This is a second-growth redwood forest in Felton that was once logged and has regrown since. Here you can find incredible trails including the 3.3-mile-long Fall Creek to Lime Kilns Trail that goes to old mining ruins.
The Fall Creek to Lime Kilns Trail offers a great mix of towering redwood trees, fern-covered terrain, a meandering creek, and even a look into this region’s history. I would classify this trail as easy because it only gains 500 feet in elevation and is a great choice for beginner hikers, families, and kids.
The unique part that sets the Lime Kilns Trail apart from other redwood hikes are the ruins that you can visit here. The Old Lime Kiln Ruins mark the location of historic lime kilns, a barrel mill, and other remains of an old industrial complex that once operated in the forest between 1874-1919.
After the factory closed, the property slowly deteriorated. Now what remains of the ruins are overgrown with fern, moss, and trees as nature claim back the land.
Trailhead Location: Fall Creek Unit, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
5. Fern River Resort
During our visit to Felton, we stayed at the Fern River Resort and we loved it! The Fern River Resort is nestled in a wooded property off Highway 9 that connects many historic logging towns and the surrounding redwood State Parks.
The Fern River Resort cabins come equipped with all the comforts of home and are filled with thoughtful touches for a comfortable experience. All around the property you can enjoy stunning views of towering redwood trees, the San Lorenzo River, and lush, well-kept gardens.
The layout of the property ensures that the guests have plenty of space and privacy. All of the cabins have their own designated parking spaces, entrances, and private decks with chairs to enjoy the garden views.
There are several cabin options to choose from at Fern River Resort, for various budgets and traveling group sizes.
The Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Visitor Center is conveniently located less than a mile away. Many of the State Park attractions and trails can be reached within a 10–15-minute walk from the property.
6. Felton Covered Bridge
Felton Covered Bridge is an interesting historical attraction that is located in a community park near the main intersection.
The Felton Covered Bridge was built in 1892 and served as an entryway into Felton for many years. Back in the day, the bridges were built with covers to prevent the wood from rotting and getting damaged with rain and storms.
This bridge was considered to be the tallest covered bridge in the US and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Eventually, the bridge was retired and now is used by pedestrians heading to Felton Covered Bridge County Park.
Bridge Location: Felton Covered Bridge County Park
7. Hallcrest Vineyards
If you’re looking for a place to relax after hiking and exploring the redwoods, the historic Hallcrest Vineyards is a hidden gem located near downtown Felton.
Hallcrest Vineyards is a tasting room and winemaker that produces small batches of premium organic wines from the Santa Cruz region. We stopped by here in the afternoon to enjoy a glass of wine on their cozy outdoor patio overlooking the surrounding forest and meadows.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly and knowledgeable staff (and several super-cute animals that reside here). The atmosphere was very relaxing and just what we needed after several days of hiking!
The Hallcrest Vineyards tasting room can be a bit tricky to find if you’re not familiar with the area. To get there turn off on Felton Empire Road from Highway 9 and continue until you see a large parking lot on the left. Once you park, walk to the left until you see an outdoor patio.
We tried several different wines here and my favorite was the Pinot Noir. You have the option to try wine by the glass, a wine flight, or just go for a full bottle!
Location: Hallcrest Vineyards
8. Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort
If you’re looking to spend a few days RV camping in Felton, we’ve got the perfect place for you! The Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is a great alternative to standard State Park camping that offers amazing amenities for its guests.
The Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is in the prime location to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park as well as the main attractions of Felton. Here RV Resort guests can enjoy conveniences like a Clubhouse, firepits, bathrooms with hot showers, and full hook-up RV sites.
Take your pick from standard RV camping sites for $80 a day, or if you’re up for a splurge, the river view sites go for $125 a day. Each of the full hook-up sites includes water, sewer, electric, and cable.
Location: Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort
9. Downtown Felton
Felton has a small downtown area that is a wonderful spot to spend a few lazy afternoon hours. The main street has everything that charming small towns are known for – eclectic shops, gift stores with local handmade products, inviting coffee shops, and several dining choices.
Often on Saturdays, you can catch live music performances on the redwood deck at the center of the main shopping area. On Tuesdays between 1-6 pm from May to October, you can roam around the Felton Farmers Market to try local produce, artisanal breads, and sweets.
10. Bigfoot Discovery Museum
If you’re looking for something unique and different to do, Felton has its own Bigfoot Discovery Museum for those who believe in the Sasquatch. The Bigfoot Discovery Museum is easily accessible off Highway 9 and is open Friday to Monday from 1-5 pm.
Unfortunately, we missed the opening hours on our latest trip to Felton but my mom has visited the Bigfoot Discovery Museum before and really enjoyed hearing all the stories from the owner who manages it. The museum consists of artifacts, exhibits, and evidence of Big Foot sightings.
Location: Bigfoot Discovery Museum
11. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
If you’re visiting Felton in the summer season, you have the option to stay and camp at the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground. This campground offers 107 shaded camping sites and has a separate entrance off Graham Hill Rd.
From this campground, you can also head on an interesting and short trail to Henry Cowell Redwoods Observation Deck. This observation deck is situated on a rare sandhill 805 feet above sea level that overlooks the Santa Cruz coastline and the surrounding mountain ranges.
On top of the deck, you might spot Acord Woodpeckers making holes in the surrounding trees for storing acorns in the winter or peep through the magnifying glass at the coastline in the distance. The unique combination of sandy hills and mild climate creates a rare and fragile ecosystem here that is not found anywhere else on Earth.
Campground Location: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
12. The Mystery Spot
The Mystery Spot is located a short drive from Felton and is one of the best things to do in the area. If you’re thinking about going – do it! The Mystery Spot is a unique tourist attraction that is well worth visiting.
To see the Mystery Spot you will need to buy an entrance ticket for a guided tour of the location. The tickets cost $8 per person and $5 for parking. Kids under 3 and active military are free of charge.
The Mystery Spot tours run multiple times a day. We arrived a bit early, purchased our ticket, and waited around for the next tour.
Our tour guide Arizona was a young kid from Santa Cruz that kept us laughing for the entire time. Once the tour started our guide gave us a quick intro about the Mystery Spot and how it all got started before diving into some hands-on demonstrations. He kept the audience engaged and pulled people from the crowd to take part in the “mysteries” that can be found here.
The main attraction of the Mystery Spot is a slanted cabin that appears to be gravity-defying. Everything about the cabin looks crooked and was built to trick the visitor’s perception.
Some fun demonstrations included water that flowed upwards, being able to walk vertically up the walls and a gravity-defying wrecking ball that was nearly impossible to move. At the end of the tour, we had some free time to walk around the cabin and take a few photos of the slanted stairs and distorted floors.
While the location itself is pretty small, the stories kept us mesmerized and entertained for the entire hour. This tour is a combination of a magic show mixed with comedy, in the midst of towering redwoods. It is quite interesting and a must-do if you’re planning a visit to the Santa Cruz region!
Location: The Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz
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