Tip right off the bat:
The trip up the mountains is pretty boring, and even though it was about an hour or so long it is perfect for little kids, like toddlers.
The trip to Santa Cruz is far more exciting, costs a little more, but totally worth the trip, you will end up at the Santa Cruz Board walk and spend a whole day at the beach. The Boardwalk is a fun place and we totally recommend doing this trip with older kids who don’t need a mid-day nap.
The trip to the mountains at the Santa Cruz train in the woods
We had a good time roaming through Sequoia Sempervirens at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Undecided about the extended train ride at the nearby Roaring Camp we took a leap of faith and after Misha’s quick nap boarded the old steamer.
Previously we had a good time checking out and riding trains at the Redwood Valley at Tilden Park; however this time it was a 1 1/2 round trip and we simply didn’t know how our little son would react.
Apparently, every other family had a child or two with them (ranging in age – hence tolerance level). As we took our time boarding, eventually we started moving and it was a pretty spectacular experience, especially for younger kids.
A good half of toddlers simply fell asleep on the way to the top from gentile boxcar vibration.
At the very top we spent about 10 min (unfortunately not enough to explore the area) and in a blink of an eye we were back down to the depot.
Conclusion on the ride up the mountain
Overall – not particularly impressive – although perhaps it was because we took the short route. If we’re ever back in the area a better choice would be to take the Santa Cruz Boardwalk route.
It’s important to note that Henry Cowell Redwood Park hike (which is about 0.8 miles) is ideal for newborns and little children – you will see unrealistically grand Sequoias at every turn and enjoy the cool shade of the trees in the hot weather – a perfect spot for photo ops.
There are several other interesting spots to checkout in the Park – like “Garden of Eden” and “Paradise Park” down San Lorenzo river.