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A Visitor’s Guide to Big Basin Redwoods State Park

A Visitor’s Guide to Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Looking to enjoy an outdoor experience? Take a trip over to Big Basin Redwoods State Park and enjoy California's stunning nature. Team


2 min read

May 21, 2024

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the oldest state park in California, established in 1902. This natural wonderland spans over 18,000 acres and is renowned for its majestic old-growth redwood trees, some of which are more than 1,000 years old. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature lover, or just looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Big Basin Redwoods State Park offers something for everyone. Here’s your comprehensive guide to making the most of your visit to this breathtaking park.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located approximately 65 miles south of San Francisco and 25 miles northwest of Santa Cruz. The park is accessible by car, with several routes leading to the main entrance at 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA. The most scenic route is via Highway 9 through the charming towns of Felton and Boulder Creek. Parking is available at the park headquarters, but it can fill up quickly on weekends and holidays, so arriving early is recommended.

Hanging out among the redwoods is a special experience.

What to Do

Hiking: Big Basin is a hiker's paradise, boasting over 80 miles of trails that cater to all skill levels. The most popular trail is the Berry Creek Falls Loop, a strenuous 10.5-mile hike that takes you through lush forests and past four stunning waterfalls. For a shorter, easier hike, the Redwood Loop Trail is a 0.6-mile path that offers a close-up view of some of the park's most impressive redwoods, including the famous Mother of the Forest and Father of the Forest trees.

Camping: The park offers a variety of camping options, including standard campsites, group sites, and backcountry trail camps. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak season. The main campgrounds are located near the park headquarters and provide amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. For a more rustic experience, the backcountry trail camps offer a secluded setting deep within the redwood forest.

Wildlife Watching: Big Basin is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including deer, raccoons, bobcats, and over 100 species of birds. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to spot wildlife. Bring a pair of binoculars and a camera to capture the park's inhabitants in their natural habitat.

Educational Programs: The park offers a range of educational programs for visitors of all ages. Join a guided nature walk, attend a campfire program, or participate in a Junior Ranger activity to learn more about the park's history, flora, and fauna. The park’s visitor center also features exhibits and displays that provide insight into the redwoods and the region’s natural history.

Looking up at the redwoods is something that can't be captured in photography.

What to Bring

When visiting Big Basin Redwoods State Park, it’s important to come prepared. Here are some essentials to bring along:

  • Comfortable Hiking Shoes: With so many trails to explore, sturdy footwear is a must.
  • Water and Snacks: There are limited places to purchase food and drinks within the park, so bring enough to keep you hydrated and energized.
  • Layered Clothing: The weather in the park can be unpredictable, with cool mornings and evenings and warmer afternoons. Dressing in layers will help you stay comfortable throughout the day.
  • Sunscreen and Hat: Even though you’ll be spending much of your time under the canopy of the redwoods, it’s still important to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Map and Compass: While the park’s trails are well-marked, it’s always a good idea to have a map and compass on hand, especially if you plan to venture into the backcountry.

Tips for a Safe Visit

  • Stay on Marked Trails: To protect the fragile ecosystem and for your safety, always stay on designated trails.
  • Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash and leave the park as beautiful as you found it.
  • Be Bear Aware: Although rare, black bears do inhabit the park. Store food securely and follow all park guidelines regarding wildlife.
  • Check for Trail Closures: Before your visit, check the park’s website or contact the park headquarters for information on trail closures or other advisories.

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Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a true gem of California’s natural heritage. Its towering redwoods, scenic trails, and abundant wildlife make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re hiking to a waterfall, camping under the stars, or simply soaking in the tranquility of the forest, a visit to Big Basin is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

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