Trail Running in California’s Redwood National Forest

Adventure Is Calling

The Bay Area is known for attracting thousands of people to experience the culture, history, art, and cool weather of the region, but one timeless attraction gets overlooked with the buzzing attractions of the city, Redwood Regional Park.

Meet the Author!

Kim Duke:

Guide At a Glance

- Price Range:
- Physical Difficulty:
- Time Required:

Your Next Quest

This is your next adventure. Grab your trail running shoes, and let me introduce you to the wondrous Redwood Regional Park.

What you need to know before you go!

Trail Running is by far one of the most beneficial cardiovascular activities you can partake in. Aside from the amazing workout you gain by hitting the trails, Trail Running also assists you with balance, core strengthening, assists stress management, and can assist with improving your mental health.

Did I mention it’s better for your joints than road running? That’s right, the soft pounding on the dirt trails is better than going in circles on the track at your local high school or on the street. Let’s not forget the views; instead of looking at bleachers, you can be surrounded by Redwood’s aging over 100 years old.

One of the highlights about trail running is you can get started today. Your fitness level can be at day one, or you can be a professional athlete. You can adjust your speed to your liking, and there are various trails to choose from, so you can decide whether you want to take advantage of the lower elevated loops or ascend to the skyline trail.

So, this may be your first time hitting nature trails, and you need to know how to get started and what to look out for. No worries, we have all the basics covered here in this blog. You don’t need much to get started. Your essentials will be an AllTrails app that can be found on your phone’s app store, a pair of trail running shoes, and a hydration pack.

Your focus while Trail Running should be to watch out for rocks, roots, and steep drops. You’re all set, put one foot in front of the other and start your journey. Need some more information? REI covers trail running shoes and some technical how-to’s; watch it here, Trail Running For Beginners.

Teach me your ways!

  • Bring Fruit And Plenty Of Snacks
  • Take Your Time With The Water: Sip Little, Sip Often!
  • Get Up As Early As Possible To Beat The Rush
  • Purchase A Fitness Watch (Garmin, Samsung, Apple)
  • Purchase The Premium AllTrails App, and It Will Notify You If You Veer Off The Trail
  • When You Get Tired, Slow Down, If Not, You Will Likely Start Tripping Over Rocks And Roots

Need some inspiration?

Still undecided?




Where and When to Go?


Redwood National Forest is located in Northern California, specifically Oakland. The Bay Area is known for the cool weather atmosphere the Pacific Ocean and Sunny California works together to create.

Nevertheless, if you are starting your adventure in the morning or mid-afternoon, which I highly recommend, then thick socks, long pants, and an active jacket or additional layers will be required. The forest, with all of its magnanimous Redwoods providing protection from the sun, causes temperatures to drop below 55 degrees.


As you can imagine, sunny Summer days and Early Autumn before the rain starts making the trails muddy are the ideal seasons to trail run. However, trail running is a year-round activity that can be enjoyed. Keep in mind that water and mud don’t make a solid ground to run on and increase your chance for mistakes greatly.


Though we are focusing on Trail Running in the Redwood National Forest, you can get started at your local nature trail or hiking trail.

Remember I mentioned that app All Trails? Well, it’s good for not getting lost in the woods, but also it shows you what nature trails are near you. You should definitely make it a goal to take on the trails at Redwood Nat’l Forest but don’t let that stop you from getting started today.

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park

A hidden redwood forest lies off Redwood Road just a few miles over the ridge from downtown Oakland. The forest’s peaceful groves give little evidence of the park’s bustling past – in the mid-1800s the area was the scene of extensive logging to supply building materials for the San Francisco Bay Area. The logging era has long since passed, and a stately forest of 150-foot coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) has replaced those cut down.

-Courtesy of East Bay Regional Park District

  • Address: 7867 Redwood Rd, Oakland, CA 94619
  • Hours: 5 am – 10 pm
  • Cost: $5/vehicle

Essential Outdoor Skills

What outdoor and survival skills should I master before embarking?

I am happy to say that this activity isn’t one that is going to require a survival kit and the need to start a fire to keep warm.

  • Basic Navigation Skills
  • How To Read A Map
  • Basic First Aid Knowledge
  • A Plan If You Get Injured While Running

Here are some other helpful tips!

  • Remember the phone numbers of your emergency contacts in case your phone dies
  • Always make a note of what time the sun sets
  • Make a note of how many calories you burn to ensure you are eating and hydrating properly afterward

Numbers to remember

is a common pace for trail runners!
0 mph
and below can put you at risk of hypothermia!
0 deg
is the height of the tallest redwood tree in the world!
0 ft

Safety & Risk

Is this adventure for you?

If you find yourself asking this question still let me tell you firsthand as a person who was not accustomed to running in nature, this is one of the best ways to become acclimated to being surrounded by trees rather than cars and buildings.

The maintained well-marked trails of Redwood National Forest and consistent traffic make this activity the best choice for someone intimidated about any risks of being in danger. Let me assure you that those risks are little to none with the proper running gear, hydration, and navigation tools.




What animals can I expect to encounter?

As with any natural setting, wildlife encounters are to be expected. That either sounds extremely enticing to you or a good excuse not to leave the house. I can tell you, from my own experience, that I have never seen a large animal during my trail runs or hikes that may be due to the high foot traffic of this popular destination. Believe it or not, animals do not want to be seen or bothered; it is vital that we preserve their space and not go out of our way to gawk or disrupt them.

Now, that has been my experience; yours might be different, so let’s list a few of the residents at the Redwood National Forest:

  • Small lizards such as salamanders and newts
  • Owls
  • Deer
  • Banana slugs
  • Roosevelt elk
  • Mountain lions  and bear are rarely seen in these parts, but there have been spottings in the past

Fitness & Training

What is the recommended level of fitness?

As with any cardiovascular activity, time only makes it easier. You won’t need to be a collegiate athlete to start Trail running but beginning your journey prior to hitting a high altitude long-distance run would be ideal. There are short turnaround loops you can start with, such as the French Trail or Tres Sendas trail, which are less than 3 miles.

Training and preparation exercise regimen

If you are up for the challenge, however, then the French to Bridle, to Stream Trail Loop might be more your speed. It is an 8.4-mile loop with a 1,300+ elevation gain. The views are immaculate, but the journey will definitely take a toll on your body. For this adventure, I recommend training first on flat trails and weekly adding on more miles and elevation.

You can certainly take on this Trail run without training prior. Once again, trail running is you vs. your activity. Take your time and enjoy the beauty around you. You’ll be surprised that cardio is not the only thing that will take your breath away.

Loaded Hill Walks

Nothing builds quads like the burn from a good hill walk! Hike with 10-20% of your bodyweight.


Man Jogging on Beach

Running is a mileage game. Accustom your joints to the shock impact of trail running. Every run should be at least 20 minutes.


Rowing is a great cardiovascular exercise that gives your legs a break! You can easily burn 1,000 calories an hour with this full-body exercise.

Gear Guide

What gear do I need for this trip?

Your wallet will thank you later for picking this adventure. Quality trail shoes, hydration pack, first aid kit, and snacks are all you will require to start your journey.

Required Gear

  • Trail shoes
  • Hydration pack

Supporting Gear

  • Compass
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid Kit

Accessories & Apps

  • Trail Maps
  • AllTrails (PRO subscription)

Finances & Budget

What are the costs associated with this adventure?

Gear Cost

If you don’t already own a pair of quality trail running shoes, don’t walk, run and buy some. Fleet feet has some really cool tools that will scan your feet and provide you with the support you need for any activity. The team is knowledgeable about what shoes are appropriate for Trail running and will take out the time to educate you about the difference in brands.

Overall, you can expect to spend roughly $75-$150 for a new pair. Your hydration pack, if bought new, will run from $30-$100 depending on the size and accessories you decide on. Popular brands include Merril and Asics.

Food and Nutrition Cost

This is a turnaround trip, so the cost here is not too much. Buy high nutritional value snacks, but you won’t need much. Food and water should not cost any more than $40. Here are a few of my favorite items for when fatigue starts kicking in:

  • Oranges
  • Tree Nuts
  • Energy Bar

After your run, drive to downtown Oakland less than 10 miles away and enjoy a meal at Lake Chalet on Lake Merritt. You won’t regret it.

Accommodation Costs

If you stay in California, then this is a cost you won’t have to worry about, but for those traveling, the Bay Area has plenty of spaces to lay your head after a long day. This cost could be split amongst friends, but if you are solo, you can find great deals on, HotelTonight, or Airbnb, which offers to sleep in a shared space.

Transportation Costs

Post-Covid gas prices are jaw-dropping, to say the least, but at least the parking is free at the Skyline entrance of the park. If you plan on staying in the Bay Area, I recommend grabbing a Lyft or Uber; you won’t have an issue finding a driver, trust me.

Savings Tips

  • Grab some friends to split the cost of gas and transportation
  • Eat at the amazing food trucks instead of
  • Rent a shared space to lay your head

Insider Tips

Insider Tips

  • The first left turn into the Trail from the trailhead is often missed. Look out for the bench and begin to descend into the forest.
  • You can park in the neighborhood if the parking lot is full.
  • Get there before 7 am to avoid the late morning rush.
  • Lube up! Use petroleum jelly, chamois cream, or other body lubricant products to prevent painful blisters and abrasions.

What does no one tell you?

  • First, break in your shoes before this run; if not, prepare for seriously painful chafing.
  • Second, save your energy for the last ascend toward the parking lot; when you think it’s over, trust me, it’s not.


Of course, I recommend bringing people you get along with because there is nothing like being tired and agitated, am I right?

Nope, grab your shoes, and let’s go!

There are bathrooms at the trailhead and picnic areas. Can’t wait? Nature is there to cover you. Make sure you pack it out and leave no trace.

See Notes on transportation in the Finances & Budget section.

See notes in the “Where and When to Go?” section.

No, the trails are self-guided, well-marked, and maintained.