Within this 402-acre property tucked away on the outskirts of bucolic Corralitos lie not just miles of hiking trails but numerous hidden works of art. Jeff Helmer, who been stewarding the Byrne-Milliron Forest Preserve since the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County purchased it in 1984, has festooned this place with large wooden sculptures, small mementos and other tchotchkes, including guest books.
Another major attraction here is the Great White Redwood, so named for its sun-bleached bark (so California!). The Land Trust has this sweet video of a tree climber measuring the Great White and discussing its various peculiarities with forester Nadia Hamey of Big Creek Lumber.
Most of the single-track trails in this park climb steeply. As a result, several places in the preserve, like Eagle in Tree Vista (1600 feet), offer sweeping views of Monterey Bay.
An interesting thing about Byrne-Milliron is that one condition of its transfer to Land Trust ownership in the 1980s was that it continue to be a working forest—which means regular logging. The Land Trust employs sustainable timber harvest methods, then uses the proceeds to pay for trail building, trash collection, habitat restoration and other maintenance on the forest and its other properties.
The public is always welcome to visit, and admission is free. Byrne-Milliron is also one of the only parks in the county where dogs can legally run off-leash. If you wish to meet Helmer, which you should, he is usually hanging around the park, available to strike up a conversation at any time.
Some of the wildlife found in the redwood forest and the higher-elevation chaparral include deer, foxes, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. Classic California birds like the spotted towhee, California quail and Wilson’s Warbler roost here.
THE PERFECT PLACE TO Take Fido for a walk or run; do a steep, short hike; hike in a forest oddly bedecked with art.
DON’T COUNT ON Riding a mountain bike here; they’re not allowed.
CREATURE COMFORTS CONSIST OF A restroom, three picnic areas, numerous benches for lounging, courtesy Mr. Helmer.
YOUR MOM WOULD TELL YOU TO Bring water. It gets hot in these hills, especially in summer.
IF YOU’RE LUCKY You’ll have charged your camera (so you can photograph the sculptures) and brought a cooler (so you can stop at the Corralitos Market for some of the store's famous sausages).
2.5 miles; 1 hour 30 min; moderate
This trail leads past some of the park's most beloved oddities to AJ's Point of View.
Great White Loop
3 miles; 2 hours; moderate to rambunctious in a rainstorm
Follow the signs to a 600-year-old (or so) redwood tree.
Directions: From Highway 1 turn east onto Freedom Road. Drive 2.7 miles and take the left on Hames Road. Road kinks around (with slight right jog onto Pleasant Valley). Stay on Hames. When you come to Corralitos Road and the Corralitos Market, continue straight through the intersection; Hames turns into Browns Valley Road. Go left at next intersection to stay on Browns Valley Road. About 1.5 miles up on the left is 809 Browns Valley Road; look for “Roses of Yesterday and Today” sign.