A day around tallest trees on Earth: Big Basin Redwoods state park

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Someone has rightly said that all good things in the world are ‘Wild and free’, just as our nature! Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is gorgeous California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, its biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history. 

How to get there:

Situated in close proximity to both San Jose and San Francisco , the park is 25 miles northwest of Santa Cruz via Highways 9 and 236 and about 65 miles south of San Francisco.

  • A word of warning, if you are prone to car sickness, be prepared for an extremely winding road trip through the mountains to reach this state park. Don’t worry though, it’s worth the suffering when you arrive and have the opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty around you! If you have an RV or trailer, take Route 1 – it is the least curvy.

You can also take Highway 17 to Mount Hermon Road. Turn right on Graham Hill Road, go one block to light, turn right onto Highway 9, follow the highway to Boulder Creek. At the Highway 236 intersection, turn left. Follow 236 approximately 10 miles to park gate.

By Bus: Take Santa Cruz METRO 35A to Glen Arbor-Big Basin. Exit at Big Basin Way & Big Basin State Park. Walk 279 feet and you will arrive at the destination: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek CA 95006.

Parking and Fees:

There is a vehicle day-use fee for the day-use area and the campground. Regular sized autos ($10), seniors age 62 or older ($9), bus parking 10-24 passengers ($50), and bus parking for 25+ passengers ($100). There is no fee at the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center.

  • Arrive early to avoid Parking delays.

What to do:

Experience the Redwoods glory
Park Events
Park History center

Big Basin Redwoods State Park preserves more than 18,000 acres. Depending on how much time you have to explore Big Basin will likely determine which of the various hiking trails you choose to experience. Regardless of your choice, all of the trails epitomize Big Basin’s natural beauty. But first things first, take a moment to admire the majestic Redwoods!

The park has more than 80 miles of trails. Some of these trails link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the Sea Trail threads its way through the park along Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. Be sure and pick up a map at park headquarters before your hike

  • Sunset-Skyline Short Loop (2.9 miles) – For those that are looking for a 1-2 hour trail and don’t mind a little strenuous activity, this is by far the best choice. You move away from the busy park headquarters and into redwood uplands.
  • The Chimney Tree is one of many redwoods that are either hollow or have an opening large enough to fit a vehicle inside them and you can either walk through them or admire the breathtaking landscape around you.

Big Basin’s 142-site campground rests under the ancient redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Camping is $35 per night, and a $10 per night fee for additional vehicles. For reservations, please visit:www.ReserveCalifornia.com.

Bicycles are allowed on all fire roads and on the Skyline to the Sea trail from Rancho Del Oso to the seasonal bridge near the base of the Berry Creek Falls trail.

The parks Nature Lodge has exhibits and historical park photographs. Visit the Visitor center (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.) to see wonderful photographs of the area from years past, learn about redwood forests, and see the many birds, reptiles, insects and mammals that live in Big Basin.
There is a gift shop next door with a wide selection of gifts, postcards, clothing and more.

Additionally, the park offers guided tours, has plethora of habitats, animals (deer, raccoons, bobcats) and lots of bird life—including Steller’s jays, egrets, herons and California woodpeckers. This place is definitely worth a visit!

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