Explore the most popular trails in Austin Creek State Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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. The park's rugged topography, with elevations ranging from 150-1500 feet in elevation, offers a sense of isolation from the accustomed sights and sounds of civilization. This wilderness area is home to a rich diversity of native animals and plants. 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. Park is open 8 AM to 1 hour past official sunset. 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.

hiking
blowdown
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18 days ago

Ive done this loop multiple times at different times of the year its an awsome and wonderfull experience that i have enjoyed year round and each season brings a different challenge. It is not for the faint of heart but definately a must see one day or multi day adventure if you realy seek the thrill of the hike.

Great elevation gain and loss, exceptional beauty 100% of the hike, highly recommended.

I’m a beginner hiker this year ramping up to bigger hikes with elevations. That said, I was hiking solo on this trail and after a couple miles I decided to head back due to lack of experience. Will try again when Someone else can join me.

7 months ago

I would suggest to go counter clockwise starting on the fire road because there is no shade, it was not too hard seemed more moderate to me, you must cross the creek 20 times and some of the crossings are 20 feet of water to cross even in the summer, in the rainy season you will have trouble and will get wet.
I did not see any other hikers the whole trail. My Fitbit showed over 10 miles not 8.5.
My time was limited it took me 3.5 hours I would have liked to stop to enjoy the views and animals but rushed through it.
Overall a nice private trail.

hiking
8 months ago

Parking is $7 fee to enter Armstrong woods, drive through the woods and up a significant elevation to the very limited parking at the trail head. Gets hot and about half the trail is in sun so bring plenty of water. The trail goes right by Bullfrog Campground which looks like a lovely spot to pass the night.

hiking
8 months ago

We did this in reverse-starting down Gilliam Creek and ending on the fire trail. We had an early start, but still ended up doing the uphill fire road in full sun. The last few miles were very hard and unenjoyable. The stream crossings were no problem this time of year. We saw only 3 other people and enjoyed the solitude. A few turkeys passed our way. Bring 2 liters of water per person!

backpacking
10 months ago

This is a challenging hike in some places with beautiful views and lots of stream crossings. The beginning of the hike is very steep and is especially challenging at the end when coming back in with a pack on. The fire road offered very little shade so be prepared to sweat when going back uphill.
The water levels were low enough at most crossings but there were a few where you want to take your boots off or wear water shoes. It was refreshing to cool your feet in the water on a hot day in June.
We camped at Tom King campsite. It was secluded near a creek with a couple picnic tables and a fire ring. Pretty nice for backcountry camping! This time of year there is a fire ban in the backcountry so we couldn’t build a fire to ward off the swarms of mosquitoes. Bring your Deet!
Overall a really nice hike with good views. This is the only backpacking trail in Sonoma county and they only give 3 permits per day so you will need to get one early.

hiking
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Very beautiful hike. Had a great time. Wish we had brought footwear for fording, had to take off shoes a lot. I think the hard rating is probably a bit off, more of a moderate hike. There is some elevation gain, but it is on a fire road, so footing is solid and the grade is not too bad. Certainly give yourself enough time to complete, took us all afternoon due to having to change in and out of footwear frequently.

Lots of newts and wildflowers. Also saw a king snake sunning itself.

hiking
Saturday, February 03, 2018

The forest you're in for much of this hike is just stunning - so lush and green and undisturbed. We only passed 2 other groups the whole hike. There are > 15 stream crossings, so be sure to bring/wear your water shoes or be prepared to take your shoes off a lot. We saw a TON of red bellied newts, so watch your step! The reason this hike gets a hard rating is definitely the last 1.5 miles (otherwise definitely would not classify it as such). That steep uphill at the end of an 8.3 mile hike is not fun!

hiking
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The forest is lush and the newts are frolicking! There are currently (January) a dozen or so stream crossings; knee-high water at one ford. I clocked the loop at 9 mi, 1145 ft, 3.5 hrs.

hiking
Monday, January 15, 2018

20 + river crossings two requiring us to remove shoes and socks to cross. Bring water shoes and a water filter. Being from NorCal, trail had average scenery. Saw, turkeys and lots of interesting salamanders.

hiking
Monday, August 14, 2017

Strava has this hike at 9.3 miles and 2100 feet so don't believe AllTrails. And the extra mile is tough! Did this in "reverse" from Gilliam Creek trail looping back on the fire road. Very little water flowing in mid August. 3h 45min. Only 2 other hikers on a Sunday. Entrance to the park is through Armstrong SP so watch out if Google maps says otherwise!

hiking
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Took the Gilliam creek trail 12:30 pm was perfect start for mid day start. The 10 mile loop was challenging with river crossings, obstacles from our wet winter, steep elevation changes. We had 5 liters water we could have brought more. We saw 4 other people on trail. The meandering creeks were beautiful. The oak trees were stunning to view. We saw deer, snakes, turkey,crawfish,wild boar and a lot of birds. We will return to see the other seasons. Highly recommend

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Did this backwards. Started at Gilliam creek. Finished on the fire road. All ip hill for almost 3 miles. Amazing variety of scenery but lots of creek crossings. A good solid workout.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Great trail that leads down a fire road to some beautiful creeks. The Second half of the hike you have alot of creek crossings, then a solid 1.5 mile climb back to the trailhead.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Very hard, wading through rivers

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