Hidden in Plain Sight - Ohl Redwood Grove
|By Joe Hughes
Updated: 07/23/2012 03:13:27 PM PDT
| The other day I spoke to a friend who lives on Third Gate
(past Willits, way out Sherwood Road) about Ohl Redwood Grove, and I
was amazed and dismayed to discover that she had never seen it. Now
I know that, to an off-the-grid wilderness lover, the Grove is way
too manicured; but to me it is one of the greatest little parks in
If a friend were driving from San Francisco to Eureka, leaving the city at a time which would put him in central Mendocino County around lunch time, and were to ask me where he could best make a picnic, I would without hesitation direct him to Ohl Redwood.
"As you drive through Willits," I would say, "you will pass any number of places where you can buy your picnic fare. In addition to the fast food places (Go! Burger King!) you will find a fine deli department at Ray's, in the shopping center which first greets your entry into town, and Safeway, another stoplight down the road. And Mariposa Market, on your left after you pass the next stoplight, sometimes has excellent sushi as well as their home-made egg or tuna salad, hummus, curried tofu, and sandwiches.
"Take your food and drink to the second stoplight after Mariposa, and go left up the hill on Sherwood Road. Perhaps two miles along you will follow a left turn lane which will lead you down a hill on Birch Street. After you pass two recently renovated old motels on your right take a left turn across a little bridge and take another immediate left into the parking lot for the Ohl Redwood Grove. Now you are in the midst of magic."
Directly ahead of you as you park and up a slight rise there is a rest room, usually immaculate, but better bring T.P. to be certain. There is also a fountain there, as well as one farther into the park. For the hiker there is a mild uphill climb up and to the left of the rest room. If you have a dog, keep him on leash, especially at the top of the walk where there is another road.
The straight way in to the park leads you past (on your right) The Ball Room, on the wooded edge of which are two benches, past a two-table barbecue area, around a few trees and to a second barbecue area, with three tables. A level space just beyond those tables is the site of a one-time swimming pool. Beyond that is The Meadow, and to the far right of The Meadow a path begins which takes you along a quiet stream where turtles catch some rays watch your step here! ending at a dam which is an integral part of the Brooktrails water system.
Fill your mugs and bottles with the excellent water from the fountains: it's the best-tasting "city" water in central Mendocino.
Now, Muir Woods is bigger and very lovely; the Avenue of the Giants is one of earth's great beauties; but Ohl Redwood gives you majesty plus a picnic table. It's my favorite local restaurant.
Two caveats: there are blackberries, so in season you are likely to run into pickers; and sometimes there are groups at the Grove which use up all the parking. Parking across the street, at the Brooktrails Fire Department and Utility office, may be possible. If not, the best I can say is, try it another time. It's certainly worth it.
And one more warning, as you leave, if you're unfamiliar with Sherwood Road. The last slope leading to 101 has seen many accidents, perhaps somewhat increased when the speed limit was increased (duh?). In fact, the thin tree at the top of that slope used to bear a hand-lettered sign "I eat cars." Take it slowly.
Joe Hughes recently moved from Willits to Ukiah, and he loves the warmer weather. His column will dwell on the many local parks and green spots that make central Mendocino County such a delightful home. Any reader who has a suggestion or spots an error, especially any city gardeners or members of the Garden Club who are aware of details Joe didn't discover are urged to let Joe know at firstname.lastname@example.org.