Redwoods, hiking, camping and backpacking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California's first state park.
The great-grandpappy of the California state parks system is home to the biggest stand of old-growth redwoods south of the Golden Gate, four waterfalls (that’s just counting the big ones), a 329-foot tree and the best-tasting water in the county (from the Andrew P. Hill fountain on the Redwood Trail, named for the indignant photographer who started the movement to save Big Basin). The first California state park, it also has 80 miles of hiking trails on its 18,000 acres, including most of the famous 30-mile Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, which, as the name suggests, leads from the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. This is easily some of the most spectacular hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is one of the few state parks parks offering year-round camping in Santa Cruz County, with tent and RV camping at its forested headquarters, as well as rustic tent cabins. Reserve Big Basin camping spots at Hipcamp.com.
Seven backcountry trail camps, including those on the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, are operational May 1–Nov. 1. You can start making reservations in early March at 831.338.8861. Read more.
A GREAT PLACE TO camp, hike, mountain bike (on fire roads only), ride your horse, camp with your horse, look at birds, wind- or kitesurf (at Waddell Beach) and nerd out during any number of guided walks offered by knowledgeable, wonderful volunteers.
NOT NECESSARILY THE PLACE TO take your dog (Fido's banned from trails and fire roads, though he can tag along on paved roads).
YOUR MOM WOULD TELL YOU TO wear layers; use a bear canister or other raccoon-proof food storage device and bring mosquito repellent if backpacking.
IF YOU'RE LUCKY YOU'LL have a waterfall to yourself for a few minutes.
Directions to Park Headquarters From Highway 17, take the Mount Hermon Road exit in Scotts Valley. Follow Mount Hermon Road through Scotts Valley to Felton (3 miles). Turn right at Graham Hill Road and right again shortly thereafter at Highway 9. Travel 6.6 miles north on Highway 9 until you reach Highway 236 in Boulder Creek. Turn left and travel 4 curvy miles to the park entrance. Map to Big Basin Redwoods State Park Headquarters
Directions to Rancho del Oso Unit of Big Basin Redwoods State Park From Santa Cruz: Take Mission Street west out of town; it will turn into Highway 1. Travel 18 miles to the Rancho del Oso entrance. Park on roadside for day use. Those with backcountry trail camp reservations may park next to the ranger station.
From San Francisco: Follow Highway 1 approximately 60 miles south. The parking area is 3 miles south of the Ano Nuevo State Beach entrance.
.5 miles; 30 min.; easy
A must-see for any visitor to Big Basin, this short, flat trail features some of the most immense old-growth redwoods in Santa Cruz County.
4 miles; 2 hours; easy to moderate
A not-too-strenuous walk through redwood forest takes you to the Sempervirens waterfall and an ancient sandstone outcropping.
Ocean View Summit Hike
4.5 miles RT; 3 hours; moderate to strenuous
The trail from Big Basin park headquarters to Ocean View Summit leads past massive redwoods to a ridgetop patch of sun-blasted chaparral with a sightline to the sea.
Berry Creek Falls from Park HQ
10.5 miles RT; 6 hours; strenuous
A tough but rewarding hike to the park's signature waterfall.
Berry Creek Falls from Waddell Beach (Rancho del Oso)
12 miles RT; 4 hours; moderate to strenuous
An easier approach to a 60-foot waterfall, this hike traverses the beautiful Waddell Valley.
21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006. 831.338.8860. Learn more at the official Big Basin State Park website.