8 AM to 1 hour past official sunset.
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
Driving Directions to Austin Creek SRA
Camping and Lodging
Online reservations are not available for this park.
Brochures and Campground Maps
Upcoming Park Events
No events scheduled at this moment.
Austin Creek State Recreation Area is adjacent to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and is accessed through the same entrance. With open woodlands, rolling hills, and meadows, its topography offers a strong contrast to the dense, primeval redwood forest below. Here you will discover deep tree-lined ravines cooled by year round streams; grassy hillsides burnished golden by the heat of summer sun and turned emerald by plentiful winter rains; oak capped knolls that seem to float like islands on lakes of lowland fog; and rocky mountaintops that showcase an almost panoramic view. A paradise for the hiker and equestrian, Austin Creek rewards the explorer with twenty miles of trails and panoramic wilderness views, back-country camping, and Bullfrog Pond Campground- accessible by vehicle (no trailers). The park's rugged topography, with elevations ranging from 150-1500 feet, offers a sense of isolation from the accustomed sights and sounds of civilization.
Be advised that vehicle access to the park and campground is by way of a steep, narrow, winding, 2.5-mile-long, mountain road. For safety reasons, no vehicle over 20 feet in length is allowed on this road. Vehicles with trailers or other towed vehicles are also prohibited.
This wilderness area is home to a rich diversity of native plants and animals. The springtime wildflower displays include Douglas iris, Indian paint brush, buttercups, lupines, brodiaes, California poppies, and shooting stars. The grasslands, chaparral, conifer, oak woodland, and riparian habitats of Austin Creek SRA are home to a wild range of native animals including squirrel, deer, raccoon, fox, coyote, skunk, bobcat, and an occasional black bear or mountain lion. Introduced species that are commonly seen include feral pigs and wild turkeys. Bird life in the park includes the colorful wood duck and the rare spotted owl. Other more frequently seen birds include great blue herons, ravens, black-shouldered kites, California quail, various woodpeckers, hawks, and flycatchers. Several aquatic species live in Bullfrog pond including sunfish, black bass, and bull frogs. Trout, salmon, newts and salamanders are found in the many streams. Licensed anglers may fish Bullfrog Pond, but all streams are closed to fishing to protect important spawning habitat.
A historic feature of Austin Creek SRA is the remaining buildings of Pond Farm Pottery. This was the home, workshop, and school of the internationally renowned ceramic artist, Marguerite Wildenhain, who settled here after World War II. Formerly a student at Germany's famous Bauhaus school of design, Wildenhain enjoyed and was inspired by the peace and natural beauty of this area.
Summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, although mornings can still be cool. In the winter it will occasionally drop below freezing and the 50+ inches of annual rainfall generally includes an occasional snow flurry. Always carry plenty of water and wear layered clothing.
Facilities - Activities
Twenty three family campsites are located near Bullfrog Pond. Campsites are available on a first-come, first served basis. The campground is subject to seasonal closure. Tables, fire rings, flush toilets and potable water are provided, but no showers are available.
Back country primitive campsites are located at the Tom King and Manning Flat sites. Each campsite has a table and fire ring. Pit toilets are located nearby. There is a stream in the area, but this water supply must be purified before drinking. Use of a micro filter is recommended. The three backcountry sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You will need a backcountry permit to camp in our primitive backcountry campsites. You may register at the Armstrong entrance station for camping at Bullfrog Pond Campground. However, if the kiosk is closed, you will need to self-register for camping at the entrance to Bullfrog Pond Campground in Austin Creek. You will find self-pay envelopes and self-registration instructions at the registration site. Backcountry camping permits are ONLY available by applying in person at either the Stewards office or the Armstrong entrance station.
Camp fires are prohibited during periods of extreme fire danger, although camp stoves can still be used for cooking in all but the most critical periods of fire danger when camping is not permitted at all.
Dogs are permitted on paved roads ONLY.
Equestrian use of trails is subject to seasonal closure based on trail conditions. You will need to call the park before your visit to confirm the status of our trails. All horse trailers must remain down in the parking lots of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
Austin Creek Fire Road:
This is an unpaved service road that also serves as a trail, winding down the canyon through meadows and groves of forest as it drops from 1200' to 300' in elevation. After 4.7 miles, the road meets with Gilliam Creek Trail. A strenuous but spectacular day hike can be experienced by hiking down the Austin Creek Fire Road and returning via Gilliam Creek Trail - approximately 9 miles round trip. Please note that this fire road has little canopy cover.
Gilliam Creek Trail:
This narrow, steep trail parallels Gilliam Creek as it winds through shaded oak woodlands. After close to 4 miles it meets the Austin Creek Fire Road at the confluence of East Austin and Gilliam Creeks. This trail is seasonally impassable at the lower elevations due to high winter water levels in Gilliam Creek.
Pool Ridge Trail:
On this trail you will experience the dramatic contrast between the cool redwood grove below and the open forest and rolling hills above in Austin Creek SRA. The trail only drops 500' in elevation, however the upper portion is very steep. The trail itself is 4.2 miles one way and can be used to access Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. It can also be used as a loop in conjunction with the East Ridge Trail.
East Ridge Trail:
This trail curves through the diverse and varied forests of Armstrong Redwoods and Austin Creek as it spans the 4 miles and 1500' elevation between the park entrance and Bullfrog pond campground. It can also be used as part of a loop by hiking one way on this trail and returning via the Pool Ridge Trail.
Effective: 1 June 2014
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, a cooperating association that works in partnership with California State Parks, has reopened Austin Creek State SRA's Bullfrog Pond campground by way of an operating agreement with State Parks.
Bullfrog Pond Campground offers camping by reservation and on a first come, first served basis. View http://www.stewardscr.org/cms/pages/austin_creek_camping.html for Bullfrog Pond Camping information.
The three primitive backcountry campsites (Tom King and Mannings Flat 1 & 2) are currently OPEN. You must apply for a backcountry permit in person ONLY, no advanced reservation or self-registration is permitted for these sites.
Note: Often in the summertime we do go into a fire ban. Please call ahead if you are unsure about the current conditions or check Stewards’ website
Available Activities and Facilities at Austin Creek State Recreation Area
Exhibits and Programs