Freelance writer. Mother of a one-year-old who's on the go-go-go. Out and About? Yep, that's us.

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Of Real (and Toy) Trains and Redwood Trees

When you have a baby, everyone who loves you wants to visit. Moving to the Coast only a few months before Zee was born meant that most everyone who visited was from out of town. Out of towners equal tourist venues. Which is how my Zee found herself strapped into a Baby Bjorn, riding on an open-air train at age 2 months. Choo-choo!

Truthfully, Roaring Camp Railroads is one of the coolest things about living on Monterey Bay (besides the parks, the aquarium, the ocean, the organic food….). There are two railroad lines running out of the Felton park/train depot. The Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway goes from Felton to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and only operates in the summer. The one we took — the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad — runs year-round.

An hour-and-a-half ride, Narrow Gauge Railroads takes passengers through the redwoods to the summit of Bear Mountain and back again. The steam train from the 1880s, which is currently running weekends, once brought giant redwood logs down from the mountain to be used in home construction and furniture.

Gliding through the giant trees, chugging over narrow trestles while listening to the conductor share the rich history of the railroad is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Roaring Camp holds special events throughout the year, the latest an Eggstraordinary Egg Hunt on April 3 and 4.

The trains are pricey at $15.50 per child and $21.50 per adult, but we found the trip worth it. Parking at Roaring Camp is $7. However, if you have a California State Parks pass, you can easily park at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and walk over. The trains are visible from the Henry Cowell parking lot.
The grounds, with its cute-rustic buildings and lovely picnic areas, are worth a gander. There’s a concession stand, plus a general store where you can buy horehound candy and train memorabilia.

If you do park at Henry Cowell, be sure to check out their Toy Trains in the Redwoods display, running daily through April 11. The modest, but charming room adjacent to the park store contains five toy trains running on tracks complete with dinosaurs, UFOs and houses of every variety. There are plastic redwoods, of course, to complement the real trees just outside.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: Eggstraordinary Egg Hunt at Roaring Camp Railroads
WHEN: April 3 & 4. Check schedule for train times.
WHERE: Roaring Camp Railroads, Graham Hill Road, Felton
COST: $15.50/Child & $21.50/Adult. Parking is $7
AGE RANGE: All ages
MORE INFORMATION: www.roaringcamp.com or (831) 335-4484

WHAT: Toy Trains Rolling in the Redwoods
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through April 11
WHERE: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, 101 North Big Trees Park Road, Felton
COST: Free. Parking costs $6 or $7, but is free with California State Parks pass
AGE RANGE: Best for ages 1- 11
MORE INFORMATION: (831) 335-3174

Photo Credit: JK Mahal.

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