Salt Point State Park’s Pygmy Forest in Gualala

Salt Point State Park

Just south of Gualala on the Sonoma Coast, set at the highest elevation within Jenner’s Salt Point State Park, lies one of the world’s wonders: a pygmy forest. The Bishop and Bolander pines, Mendocino cypresses, and redwoods here are fully mature (and in some cases, more than a century old), but at only a few feet tall, are uniquely miniature. 

These trees’ stunted growth is caused by an inhospitable combo of highly-acidic, nutrient-free soil and a below-surface hardpan layer that blocks soil drainage and prevents the trees from setting the deep roots they need to thrive.

The 3.8-mile, two-hour loop of the Pygmy Forest Trail takes you through a mixed evergreen forest, a grassy prairie surrounded by pines, and lots of mushrooms and wildflowers (in season) before you reach pygmy tree territory. 

Start out on Central Trail, located near the ranger station. You’ll pass madrone, Douglas fir, tan oaks, and eucalyptus as you ascend steadily upward. The occasional interpretive signs are interesting, describing various plants and the way they were used by the area’s first residents, the Kashaya Pomo.

After you’ve walked about one-and-a-half miles you’ll come to an intersection; turn left onto the North Trail, which brings you through the pygmy forest. Turn left again at the Water Tank Trail; it’s short, less than a quarter mile, at which time you rejoin the Central Trail by turning right. This brings you back to the ranger station and your vehicle.

Find more things to do in Gualala, The Sea Ranch and in Jenner.

You Might Also Like

Fort Ross Coast Line

More than just a premier Wine Country destination, Sonoma County can have a profound impact on a traveler’s emotional wellbeing,…

Wine tasting at sunset.

Fall is a busy time in Sonoma County. Plan ahead with our weekend-by-weekend, month-by-month collection of popular experiences — from…

Yellow wildflowers covering field
Outdoor Activities

Springtime in Sonoma County is hard to beat! Plan ahead with our weekend-by-weekend, month-by-month collection of popular experiences — from…

Wingo, California, Sonoma County’s Ghost Town, photographed by @chrisjkam
Outdoor Activities

Traveling mindfully to Sonoma County allows us to have experiences that can be savored in a place focused on and…

Tolay Lake Regional Park

More than (just) a premier Wine Country destination, Sonoma County’s myriad of options allow travelers to connect with the destination…

Vineyards in the summer in Alexander Valley

As a premier wine and food destination, Sonoma County attracts travelers seeking a getaway that feeds the senses, connects people…

Hiking / Walking / Running

Sonoma County is more than just a travel destination. The Sonoma County experience can feed your soul, enrich your life,…


Sonoma County is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, painted with historic redwoods and biodiverse open spaces that are ideal for connecting…


Sonoma County is the ancestral home of three tribes of Native Americans – Kasia Pomo, Wappo, and Miwok – and…


Visitors travel from around the world to take in the stunning beauty of Sonoma County’s great outdoors. It’s an experience…

See What’s Happening

Share your experience using #SonomaCounty or #LifeOpensUp