AUSTIN CREEK STATE RECREATION AREA
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.
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.
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.
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.
Currently Twenty-two family campsites are located near Bullfrog Pond. Campsites are available throughout the year on a first-come, first-served basis. Tables, fire rings, flush toilets and potable water are provided, but no showers are available.
Back country primitive campsites are located at the Tom King and Manning Flat sites. Each campsite has a table and fire ring. Pit toilets are located nearby. A year-round stream is nearby, but this water supply must be purified before drinking. Use of a micro filter is recommended. The primitive sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You will need a backcountry permit to camp in our primitive backcountry campsites. You may register for all camping and pick up a backcountry permit from our kiosk at the entrance to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. However, if the kiosk is closed, you will need to self-register for all camping at the entrance of Bullfrog Pond campground in Austin Creek. You will find self-pay envelopes, backcountry permits and self-registration instructions at the registration site.Ground fires are prohibited during periods of extreme fire danger, although camp stoves can still be used for cooking in all but the most critical periods of fire danger when camping is not permitted at all.
All trails are closed to equestrian use. However, the trails do open up for equestrian use when trail conditions permit. You will need to call the park before your visit to confirm the status of our trails. All horse trailers must remain down in the parking lots of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. A horse riding and pack station concession providing guided day and overnight trips is located 1/2 mile west of the Armstrong Tree in Armstrong Redwoods State park.