Things to Do
Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area offers travelers northbound on Highway 101 their first chance to walk and sleep among the North Coast’s old-growth redwood groves and to swim in a river designated as “wild and scenic” by both the State and Federal governments. The park features spectacular campsites perched above the river and one of the North Coast’s best swimming holes.
The east bank of the river, two miles of trails, and a small day-use areas with picnic tables are open all year round. In summer, the west bank of the river, two additional day-use areas, and another eight miles of trails are available to park visitors. The park’s amphitheater seats up to 140 people and interpretive programs are generally offered during the summer months.
If you have an hour, follow the Taber Nature Trail (also known as the Grove Trail) to the old-growth redwoods in Memorial Grove.
If you have half a day, during the summer months, try the Big Tree Trail, which leads to the park’s tallest redwood, the Captain Miles Standish Tree.
If you have a full day, in winter, try catch-and release fishing for salmon or steelhead, or in summer, relax by the river and take a dip in the Eel River.
Standish-Hickey has ten miles of trails with scenic forest and river views. The Taber Loop is accessible all year long. The Big Tree Trail and Mill Creek loops require river crossings. Seasonal bridges make that easy in summer; difficult in winter. Bring water, appropriate clothing, and a park map.
Taber Nature Trail (aka "Grove Trail")
Taber Nature Trail is aneasy, self-guided loop that takes you past a modest upland grove of old-growth redwoods. The well-marked trailhead is on the east side of Highway 101. Look for the second dirt road, a few yards north of the park entrance.
Big Tree Trail
Big Tree Trail is a moderate loop leading to the park's tallest tree, the Captain Miles Standish (225 feet tall, 13 feet in diameter). Starting at Redwood Campground, this trail offers outstanding views of the Eel River's South Fork.
Mill Creek Loop Trail
The strenuous Mill Creek Loop Trail offers a view of Big Tree Meadow and a close-up look at the Miles Standish Tree (225 feet tall, 13 feet in diameter). THIS TRAIL IS CURRENTLY CLOSED YEAR-ROUND.
Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area has at least one campground loop open year round. Several more are open during the summer after a seasonal bridge is installed. One site is set aside for bicyclists and hikers without cars. For camping reservations, fees, and more information, call 800-444-7275 or visit http://www.parks.ca.gov. From mid-September to mid-May, all sites are one price. From mid-May to mid-September, site fees vary.
The South Fork Eel is twisty but boatable much of the year. It fills the park with alluvial benches (flood-borne soils) on inside turns, shoreless cliffs on outside turns, rapids, deep swimmable pools, and scattered sandy beaches.
In fall and winter, salmon and steelhead swim through the park on their way upstream to spawn. Catch-and-release fishing is sometimes allowed. All anglers 16 and over must carry a valid California fishing license. Visit www.wildlife.ca.gov for complete regulations.
At the base of rocky outcrops, the South Fork of the Eel River has one of the best swimming holes in the state. Deep and sunny, it’s a pleasant place to relax on hot summer days.
Check at the park entrance to see if blue-green algae toxins are at dangerous levels.
Just for Kids
Before you leave home,