San Vicente Redwoods

San Vicente Redwoods is an 8,852-acre conservation area established by four partners – the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Sempervirens Fund and Save the Redwoods League – motivated to reverse more than a century of destructive commercial practices on the land and protect its delicate and diverse ecosystems. In 2011, the partners acquired the property and committed to its permanent protection, offering public access through multi-use trails that directly connect people with nature and empower participation in its stewardship.

Image Andrea Gaffney Photography

Prioritizing conservation, Sherwood Design Engineers identified the locations of wildlife habitats and other important natural resources and set them aside; then, 38 total miles of trails – including 7.3 miles in phase one – were designed for the remaining property. Spending weeks in the field refining the trail alignments and marking them with flagging, Sherwood’s team closely evaluated more than 100 locations where the trails would cross creeks and natural drainages, considering whether each crossing could be avoided and, if it couldn’t, designing the most sustainable way to protect and preserve the natural flow. This approach resulted in three new bridges in phase one and sixteen upon full build-out. Phase one also included the development of a new trailhead including a congregation area, restrooms, picnic benches, fire-water storage tanks, and a parking lot that features natural passive stormwater management. 

And then came fire. The CZU Lightning Complex Fires of August 2020 not only destroyed massive swaths of the forested land, it also wiped out the trail flags and required the team assess the way fire changed the landscape and its ecology. The first phase of trails now gives visitors a front-row seat to witness nature’s response to fire. The scarred land and its continuous renewal serves as a reminder of the climate crisis, and of the important role that communities play in the stewardship of natural resources.

Image Credit Andrea Gaffney
LocationSanta Cruz County, California, United States
ClientLand Trust of Santa Cruz, Peninsula Open Space Trust, Sempervirens Fund, and Save the Redwoods League
Environmental Studies: WRA Environmental Consultants
CEQA Compliance: Placeworks
Design Build Contractor: Santa Cruz Mountain Trail Stewards
Size 8,852 acres
StatusPhase One Completed 2023

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