Traveling north from San Francisco along the Redwood Highway (U.S. 101), the first old-growth redwoods you’ll encounter are in Smithe Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Here you’ll find the beautiful Frank and Bess Smith Grove of redwoods, as well as Dora Creek Falls, a lovely 60-foot waterfall. Because Smithe Redwoods is a natural reserve, the park is managed to minimize human impact, so there are no developed campgrounds or trails, or even a parking lot. There is, however, a paved pullout near it on Hwy 101 where you can pull over and park, and within the reserve you’ll find a picnic area and easy access to the South Fork of the Eel River for fishing and swimming. From about 1920 until the early 1960s it was a popular tourist resort called Lane’s Redwood Flat, owned by George W. Lane, one of the builders of the Redwood Highway. It was then purchased by the Save the Redwoods League, which deeded it to the State of California.