Trails and Hiking

Current conditions on the Big Basin Redwoods State Park Trails:
 
Trail Closures:

  • CLOSED - Approximately 1 mile of the Skyline to Sea Trail is closed south of Park Headquarters from Middle Ridge Road to the Sunset Connector Trail due to storm damage. Detours are in place.
  • CLOSED - Blooms Creek Trail between Pine Mountain Trail and East Ridge Trial. 

Other trails are OPEN but please keep in mind the following:

  • Please check with staff at Park Headquarters to see if your planned route is safe and passable. 
  • Remember that all trails close at sunset. You need to plan ahead to complete your hike before sunset.  
  • ALWAYS carry a map and water. Bring warm clothes and a flashlight in case you get caught out after dark.
  • The rainy season has started so expect trails to be muddy and slick even has it has not rained in a week or more. It takes a while for the redwood forest to dry out. 
  • Seasonal Bridges on Skyline to the Sea Trail have been removed. It might be possible to cross the creeks by hopping on rocks or using other improvised crossings. During and after storms, small streams can turn into rushing creeks.  You are responsible for gauging what you can safely cross. When in doubt, TURN BACK!    
  • Expect to find down trees. You will need to climb over, around, or under them. If you cannot get safely past down trees, you will need to turn back. You are responsible for gauging what you can safely cross. When in doubt, TURN BACK! 
  • Trail conditions are always changing, so please be aware that you may come across blocked trails that we do not know about. If you cannot safely cross a blocked or damaged section of trail, you will need to turn around. When in doubt, TURN BACK.
  • During the winter, wet roads and trails fallen trees and other obstructions can delay rescue. Please plan ahead with warm clothes, flashlights, food and water, and other emergency supplies in case you are trapped in the backcountry overnight. 

Big Basin Trails 

The park’s 80 miles of trails and roads lead past ancient trees, sparkling waterfalls, and abundant wildlife in habitats that range from lush canyon bottoms to chaparral-covered slopes. Common creatures include deer, raccoons, bobcats, and lots of bird life, including egrets, herons, woodpeckers, and Steller’s jays.

Check the Park Map, when planning your hike and make sure you carry a map while you hike to avoid getting lost. You can purchase detailed maps at outdoor supply retailers, Park Headquarters, the Big Basin Park Store or the Little Basin Campground Office. There are free park map from Park Headquarters, the Rancho Del Oso Ranger Station, or the Little Basin Campground Office.   
  
 
If you have an hour, enjoy the 0.6 mile Redwood Loop Trail. This classic walk showcases some of the park’s largest trees, including the Father of the Forest (circumference 66 feet 9 inches, height 250 feet) and the Mother of the Forest (circumference 70 feet, historic height 329 feet, current height 293 feet). A peek inside the towering Chimney Tree reveals a core completely hollowed out by fires. Located across the parking lot from the visitor center, the trail is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. 
   
If you have half a day, hike a 4-mile loop on the Sequoia and Skyline to the Sea trails. The route leads to a platform overlooking exquisite Sempervirens Falls, then up the broad slope of Slippery Rock to a junction with the Skyline to the Sea Trail. This stretch of Skyline to the Sea passes the site of a pioneer family cabin in the skyscraping redwood forest along Opal Creek.  
   
If you have a full day, head to Berry Creek Falls, a 10.5-mile roundtrip hike. Along the way, you’ll see huge coast redwoods and four spectacular waterfalls. Be prepared for a workout, too, with an elevation change of 2,150 feet.

 

GUIDED HIKES - Please click here for a list of park events and guided hikes.

BACKPACKING - Please click here for information and reservations for the Californis State Parks trail camps in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS BACKPACKING ADVENTURES - Please click here for information on Backcountry Naturalist led trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

 

 

Easy

Redwood Trail
Loop, self-guided nature trail. Trail guides available at HQ and the trailhead. Guided walks on weekends spring through fall (as available).

What to see: Some of tallest trees in the Park (Mother of the Forest).
Location: Big Basin Headquarters area.
Trailhead: Across the street from Park Headquarters, at the large Redwood Trail Marker
Length: 1/2 mile~1 km.
Time: 45 minutes to one hour
Elevation: ~Level

Sequoia Trail
Forms loop with either Skyline to the Sea (via Slippery Rock trail connector) or Shadowbrook Trails.

What to see: Sempervirens Falls, Founders Monument, Slippery Rock.
Location: Big Basin core area.
Trailhead: Parking area south of Park Headquarters
Length: ~4 miles~6.5 kms
Time: ~3 hours
Elevation: ~+/- 300'

Skyline to the Sea Trail to Maddock Cabin Site
Forms loop with either Sequoia (via Slippery Rock trail connector) or Shadowbrook Trails.

What to see: Maddock Cabin Site, Opal Creek, Old Growth Redwoods.
Location: Opal Creek area Trailhead: Across the street from Park Headquarters, at the large Redwood Trail Marker, cross bridge at Opal Creek Comfort Station, turn right.
Length: ~4 miles~6.5 kms
Time: ~2 hours
Elevation: ~minimal

Moderate

Shadowbrook Trail
Forms loop with either Skyline to the Sea (via Slippery Rock trail connector) or Sequoia Trails.
What to see: Sempervirens Falls, Founders Monument, Slippery Rock.
Location: Union Creek Area, Big Basin core area.
Trailhead: Parking area south of Park Headquarters.
Length: ~4.7miles~7.5kms
Time: ~3hours
Elevation: ~+/-200'

Creeping Forest Trail to Dool Trail
Forms loop with Dool Trail.
What to see: Forest tilted by land slips.
Location: Opal Creek, Big Basin core area
Trailhead: Skyline to the Sea at Gazos Picnic Area
Length: ~2miles~3.5kms
Time: ~11/2hours
Elevation: ~+/-400'

Skyline to the Sea Trail to Meteor Trail to Middle Ridge Fire Road
Forms loop with Dool Trail or Gazos Creek Road.
What to see: Opal Creek, many Old Growth Trees and Rogers Creek
Location: Opal Creek and large undeveloped Mid Park areas.
Trailhead: Across the street from Park Headquarters, at the large Redwood Trail Marker, across Opal Creek from the Opal Creek Comfort Station then right.
Length: ~6miles~10kms
Time: ~3hours
Elevation: ~+/-600'


Sunset Trail to Timms Creek to Skyline to the Sea Trail Loop Trail
What to see: Opal Creek, many of the largest Old Growth trees (Santa Clara Tree), and Timms Creek.
Location: Opal and Timms Creeks and large undeveloped Mid Park areas.
Trailhead: Across the street from Park Headquarters, at the large Redwood Trail Marker, across Opal Creek from the Opal Creek Comfort Station then right.
Length: ~7.3miles~12kms
Time: ~41/2hours
Elevation: ~+200-400'

Strenuous

Trail to Berry Creek Falls
Sunset Trail to Berry Creek Falls Trail to Skyline to the Sea Trail Loop Trail
What to see: Opal Creek, many of the largest Old Growth trees (Santa Clara Tree), and Berry Creek (four water falls).
Location: Opal to Berry Creeks and large undeveloped Mid Park areas.
Trailhead: Across the street from Park Headquarters, at the large Redwood Trail Marker, across Opal Creek from the Opal Creek Comfort Station then right.
Length: ~10.5 miles~17 kms
Time: ~6 hours
Elevation: ~+200 - 400'


Howard King Trail to Mount McAbee
Forms loop with Skyline to the Sea Trail
What to see: Spectacular views!
Location: Mid Park areas.
Trailhead: Skyline to the Sea and Middle Ridge Fire Road.
Length: ~7 miles~11 kms
Time: ~4 hours
Elevation: ~+/-730'


Skyline to the Sea Trail to Waddell Beach
One Way
What to see: Spectacular views!
Location: The Whole Park, Mid Park areas, Pacific Ocean.
Trailhead: Across the street from Park Headquarters, at the large Redwood Trail Marker, cross bridge at Opal Creek Comfort Station, turn left.
Length: ~12.5 miles~20 kms
Time: ~6 hours
Elevation: ~+/-1000'


Skyline to the Sea Trail to Hollow Tree Trail
There and Back. Forms loop with Basin Trail and Road.
What to see: Creeks, dense Old Growth Forest, Maddocks Cabin Site and chaparral plant community. Location: Upper Opal Creek and the Northern part of the Park.
Trailhead: Across the street from Park Headquarters, at the large Redwood Trail Marker, cross bridge at Opal Creek Comfort Station, turn right.
Length: ~8 miles~13 kms
Time: ~4 hours
Elevation: ~+/-600'

 

 

BIKING

Mountain bikes are allowed on designated multi-use trails and fire/service roads only.  The multi use section of Skyline to the Sea Trail from Rancho Del Oso at Waddell Beach to the bike rack near Berry Creek Falls, Gazos Creek Road, and Chalks Road are all rewarding routes. 

HORSEBACK RIDING

Horses are allowed on designated equestrian and multi-use trails as well as fire/service roads. The multi use section of Skyline to the Sea Trail from Rancho Del Oso at Waddell Beach to the bike rack near Berry Creek Falls. There’s an equestrian staging area and horse campground at Rancho Del Oso near Waddell Beach on Highway 1.  
 

DOGS

In order to protect wildlife in the Park, dogs are restricted from most trails in Big Basin. There are a few exceptions. Dogs on leash are permitted on North Escape Road which runs for approximately 2.5 miles along a creek through old growth redwood forest before climbing up through mix hard wood forest into chaparral and ending at Highway 236. This is a great overview of all of the major habitat types in Big Basin and can be done as a 5 mile out and back hike from Park Headquarters. Dogs are also permitted on the Campground Connector Trail along highway 236 from Park Headquarters to Blooms Creek Campground and Sempervirens Campground.