Located in the middle of Golden Gate Park, the grassy oasis of Hoover Redwood Grove offers the scenery and natural beauty of local ‘gentle giants’ known as Coast Redwoods (or Sequoia sempervirens). The peaceful getaway is one of those often-overlooked locations in the park. The redwoods were planted in 1930 to honor war causalities. Over the years, the trees grew to establish a dense, shady grove that includes plants, such as flowering currant, sword ferns, and huckleberry.
Things to Do
The Redwood Grove is an ideal piece of the park to explore with plenty of natural features to admire. Besides being in the midst of the tallest living things on Earth, the grove presents the oldest planted species in Golden Gate Park. You may want to take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to enjoy a nature walk with the family, as you point out the native fauna of the grove. Highlights include:
• Flowering Current – Rosy red, fragrant flowers with pale green leaves that emerge in the late winter or early spring. During the summertime, small black berries grow.
• Skunk Cabbage – Decorating forest stream edge, the plant with the broad, deep green leaves and bright yellow leaf-like spathe (a part of the plant that covers a flower cluster) stand out in the summertime, as well as the skunk-like odor that led to the naming of this plant.
• Western Azalea – Forming in dense thickets, this deciduous shrub grows large fragrant clusters of flowers in early summer with white or pink blooms.
• Huckleberry – The evergreen shrub with the small, white bell-shaped flowers in the spring will produce deep blue berries in the fall.
• California Nutmeg – The stiff, spiny needles of this evergreen tree are accompanied by aromatic seeds.
• Buckthorn – By autumn time, the red berries of this large shrub turn black.
• Wild Ginger – On the forest floor, the eye-catching heart-shaped leaves of this evergreen groundcover produces a spicy aroma when crushed. The summertime brings small, cup-shaped maroon flowers to the forefront.
• Redwood Sorrel – Pink flowers grow on the slender stalks of the evergreen groundcover in the spring and summer.
• Dutchman’s Pipe – Native to Central and Northern California, the flowers of this vine emerge in mid-winter and are shaped like small pipes. In the springtime, Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies come to feed on the plant.
• Red Elderberry – Small, cream-colored flowers decorate this shrub in the early spring. A scarlet shade takes over in the late spring.
• California Rhododendron – A native evergreen to the state, look for the large, brightly colored pink flowers that cover the plant in late spring.
Picnics, parties and other gatherings (like book clubs) have congregated at the Hoover Redwood Grove. There are no picnic tables or BBQ grills at Hoover Redwood Grove, so you’ll have to bring chairs or blankets during your visit. You are also allowed to bring your own grill. Adults are permitted to drink alcohol within the picnic area – just beer and wine – no kegs or liquor are allowed. Since inflatable play structures are welcome, some people plan birthday parties at the grove. Just keep in mind that an additional permit is required, and no electricity is provided. The small- to medium-grassy space of the grove allows visitors to freely play a healthy game of volleyball or other lawn games.
There is no sign identifying Hoover Redwood Grove, but you will find the picnic area opening up along the south edge of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive – just west of the park entrance located on 20th Avenue and Lincoln Way. Drivers visiting the grove can enjoy free parking along MLK Drive.
No restrooms are situated at Hoover Redwood Grove, so you’ll have to save your bathroom breaks for a trip farther east on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive – just past the intersection with Crossover Drive at the 19th Avenue Playground.