Grove of Old Trees


Perfect Place for a Serene Walk or Picnic

LandPaths' beautiful Grove of Old Trees is open for walking and picnicking any day of the year. In fact, the Grove is the only privately-owned preserve in Sonoma County that is publicly accessible and free to all. Enjoy the beauty and grandeur of these 33 acres of old growth redwoods on easy trails, some suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

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Location & Directions

Unlike most remaining old growth redwood stands, the Grove is situated on a ridgetop - specifically at 17400 Fitzpatrick Lane, Occidental, CA. From the town of Occidental, look for Coleman Valley Road - the main road exiting the West Side of town. Take Coleman Valley Road up the hill for approximately 2 miles until it turns into Joy Road (where Coleman Valley turns right). Continue straight on Joy Road. Take Joy Road for approximately 0.2 miles and then turn right on Fitzpatrick Lane.

Proceed slowly on this narrow winding lane for approximately 1.4 miles.  The road banks to the left over a cattle grate, and up a moderately steep hill. Please remember to give right of way to vehicles traveling uphill. Continue around the bend and to the gravel parking area on your right.

Special Note: Fitzpatrick Lane is a narrow, tree-lined road.  Please be considerate of our neighbors - drive SLOWLY when coming to and from the Grove.  Private vehicles are appropriate; commercial buses and vans are not appropriate for this road.  Please park in the gravel lot only, do not park along the narrow roadway.

 

History

On December 16, 2000, the Grove of the Old Trees was officially opened for public access. Located off of Fitzpatrick Lane outside of Occidental, the Grove is owned and managed by LandPaths, a local non-profit dedicated to fostering a love of the land and encouraging public access to wild lands. This 28 acre site is wooded in rare and lovely old growth redwoods and is inhabited by a myriad of forest critters, from tiny bats to Great Horned owls. The Grove is a vibrant ecosystem that seems to have miraculously escaped logging and other development. Thanks to the many activists, neighbors, and concerned citizens that worked to preserve the Grove, life will continue to thrive among the trees and visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of the forest forever.

LandPaths became the humble stewards of the Grove of the Old Trees in September 2000 with the assistance of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Save-The-Redwoods-League, California Coastal Conservancy and numerous generous private individuals and families. A group of county residents - "Friends of the Old Trees" - pioneered the years-long campaign to save this remnant stand from being logged. Absolutely instrumental in the final successful push to preserve this grove was LandPaths board member and west county resident Caryl Hart. Today, the Open Space District holds a "Forever Wild" conservation easement on the property, which mandates a "zero take" of the large trees comprising the grove. The property will be retained for perpetuity as a forest preserve, a place for public access appropriate to the site, ecological research, field science education and as a living remnant of the forests that once covered much of the northern California coast.

The Grove is a vibrant reminder of a redwood stand that escaped the common fate of other such stands throughout the surrounding area-logging. Historically, the families that owned the Grove operated sawmills locally, yet upheld a tradition of sparing this Grove, using it instead as a family gathering place. However, in the 1990's this changed. As you walk through the Grove you may notice blue stripes painted on selected trees. The blue stripes were made by a forester, working for the former owners, to indicate which trees were to be cut in the first phase of the approved Timber Harvest Plan. Thanks to the many activists, neighbors, and concerned citizens that worked to preserve the Grove, these blue stripes now symbolize a fate unrealized. 

 

Friends of the Grove (FOG)

Sixteen neighbors and friends of the Grove of the Old Trees put into action LandPaths' initiative to grow People Powered Parks in the County. The group's discussion brought home the idea of ownership, "This is our place- our park". With this came a name, Friends of the Grove (FOG) and a sense of responsibility and renewed interest including:

~ learning more about the Grove's health,
~ increasing assistance and leadership to steward the Grove,
~ sharing the Grove with the next generation, and
~ understanding the Grove in the context of the surrounding area and region.

Friends of the Grove is always looking for additional dedicated volunteers who can help care for this special place. To learn more about this People Powered Preserve, email info@landpaths.org.  

 

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