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Activities and Programs

California State Parks Backpacking Adventures

backpackers on the trail


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Naturalist-led backpacking adventures are being offered summer 2016 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Please click here for more information.

MAY ACTIVITIES

Redwood Grove Loop Walk
Every Saturday and Sunday at 11 and 2
AND Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) at 11 and 2

How do these grand redwoods grow to be so old? So tall? How are they important to humans? Join us for this fun and informative guided half-mile stroll through a magnificent old-growth redwood forest. Meet the famous Mother Tree, the Father of the Forest and the incredible Chimney Tree on this 90-minute walk. Stroller and wheelchair accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters. Heavy rain cancels.

Exploring Big Basin with Docents
EVERY Tuesday, leaving at 9 am SHARP

Learn about redwoods, forest plants, fires, history and more on these fun, varied hikes with Docents Paul and Eva Fewel and Diane Shaw. Hikes are 5-8 miles and last up to 5 hours. We go rain or shine, but strong winds may cancel. Meet at Park Headquarters.

A Walk in the Past
Sunday, May 1 at 10 am

No Safeway? No Home Depot? No Pharmacy? How did the Ohlone Indians survive? Take a walk with Docent Eva Fewel and learn about some of the plants the Ohlones used for food, tools and medicine. This is a 4-mile, 2.5-hour walk. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Felling the Giants
Sunday, May 1 at 11:30 am
How did lumbermen cut down these tall, tall trees? What was life like in a logging camp? What tools did they use? Join Docent Paul Fewel as he tells stories of the logging days and demonstrates how loggers were able to fell these giants—without chainsaws! You get to use some tools too! Meet at Park Headquarters.

Discover Big Basin Redwoods Hike!
Sunday, May 1 at noon
Saturday, May 7 at noon
Saturday, May 14 at noon
Sunday, May 29 at noon
Explore the park’s less travelled backcountry with Docent Barry Grimm. This moderately paced hike will be individually tailored to your group. Based on group size, experience level and weather conditions, we will choose from the many trails that explore the park’s most scenic areas. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Coffee Talk and Crafts
Saturday, May 7 from 9:30-12
Saturday, May 14 from 9-12
Monday, May 30 from 9:30-12

Come to the Sempervirens Room next to Headquarters for free coffee or hot chocolate! This is a great way to start your day in Big Basin. A Big Basin Docent will be happy to answer your questions about the park and help get you going on the right trail. And bring the kids for a fun craft!

The Women of Big Basin
A Mother’s Day Special Event at Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Sunday, May 8 at 1 pm
Celebrate Mother’s Day by honoring some of the incredible women who have lived in, worked in and fought for the Big Basin. Meet pioneer homemaker Alice Maddock; Josephine McCrackin, the “Savior of the Redwoods” and Harriet “Petey” Weaver, the first female Ranger. Interpreter Susan Blake portrays these inspiring women on this half-mile, two-hour living history walking show. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Volunteer with the Trail Crew
Saturday, May 14 at 9 am

Since 1969 the Big Basin Volunteer Trail Crew has helped make it possible for others to safely enjoy the beauty of our park. The Trail Crew meets the second Saturday of each month, rain or shine. A typical workday lasts until mid-afternoon. Please bring your own work gloves, lunch and water. Join us for a unique perspective of Big Basin, a lively and productive experience with others who share a love of these redwood forests, and the satisfaction of participating in a vital part of the park's ability to educate and inspire the public! Meet at Park Headquarters.

Shadowbrook Stroll
Saturday, May 14 at 1 pm

Join Docent Hal Anjo as he guides you on a less-traveled trail that takes you by Union Creek, to the Sempervirens Falls and back through the redwoods. This is a 4-mile, 3.5-hour hike. Bring water and good hiking shoes. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Berry Creek Falls Hike
Sunday, May 15 at 9:30 am
Travel deep into the heart of Big Basin as you experience a wide range of habitats on this moderate to strenuous 11-mile-loop hike. Wind through shady redwood canyons and climb dry ridges as you hike to the jewel of Big Basin—65-foot Berry Creek Falls. Bring lots of water, lunch and wear layers. Docent Bill Rhoades will guide you on this seven-hour hike. Meet at Park Headquarters.

The Road Less Traveled—A Dog-Friendly Walk
Sunday, May 15 at 10 am
Saturday, May 28 at 10 am
Sunday, May 29 at 9:30 am

On this dog-, stroller- and wheelchair-friendly walk, we travel on North Escape Road, a paved road closed to traffic. We tour stunning old-growth redwood groves along beautiful Opal Creek. We'll discuss redwood ecology and park history while exploring the deep shade of the redwood forest. This is a fun, easy, three-mile, two-hour roundtrip walk with a Big Basin Docent. Dogs not required, but welcome! Bring water and meet at Park Headquarters.

Wildflower Walk!
Saturday, May 21 at 10 am
Sunday, May 22 at 10 am

Join Docent Scott Peden on this slow-paced walk with lots of stops to identify flowering plants and take photos. You’ll also visit several historical spots within the park. Saturday’s walk is a leisurely 4-mile, 4-hour amble that includes two chimney trees and a waterfall. Sunday’s walk is a relaxed 5-mile, 5-hour amble that includes a chimney tree. Bring water and lunch. Meet at Park Headquarters.

The Hidden Descent
Sunday, May 22 from 10-3

Feel like the first person to explore a new forest! We hike up the Dool Trail and have a snack at Ocean View Summit, then descend along Opal Creek on the Hollow Tree Trail. The feel of the forest is remote and isolated. We eat lunch beside the ruins of the Johansen Shingle Mill built in 1927. Bring at least 1.5 liters of water, lunch, snacks and appropriate clothing. This challenging 9.1-mile hike gains about 1000’ elevation. Although we hike at a moderate pace, the distance makes it strenuous. This hike runs rain or shine. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Outlook from Mt. McAbee
Sunday, May 22 at noon
Join Docent Hal Anjo on a hike to McAbee Outlook. We'll stop at the top and enjoy the lovely ocean views, returning through a beautiful old-growth redwood forest. Learn about the different habitats as you watch the environment change as we climb and enjoy the view. Difficulty level is moderate. The hike is six miles and about three and a half hours. Bring plenty of water, snacks and good hiking shoes. Meet at Park Headquarters.

The Roof of Big Basin
Saturday, May 28 at 9:30 am

Enjoy the spring wildflowers, ferns and other plants while hiking with Docent Kathy Willott through a variety of habitats as you ascend 1100' to the top of Big Basin. This is a somewhat strenuous 5-mile hike expected to take around 4 hours and well worth the effort. Bring lunch, plenty of water, hat, sunscreen, and wear good hiking shoes. We'll have lunch with a view atop Buzzard's Roost. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Snakes Alive!
Saturday, May 28 from 12-3 pm

Why are snakes important to us? How do they see, smell, taste, hear? What and how do they eat? What does a snake feel like? Come to the Old Lodge, across the street from the Nature Lodge/Museum, and meet Docent Diane Shaw and learn about the fascinating world of snakes. Stop by anytime to meet the snake and talk to Diane.

Meteor Trail Hike
Saturday, May 28 at noon

Join Docent Hal Anjo on one of our most diverse hikes—by mountain streams, oak woodlands, chaparral and redwoods. You’ll discuss forests, flowers and fires on a six-mile, 3.5-hour hike. This somewhat strenuous ascent is rewarded with ocean views on a clear day. Bring water, lunch and good hiking shoes. Meet at Park Headquarters. Rain cancels.

Coffee, Books and Crafts
Saturday, May 28 from 1-3

Come sit in our beautiful redwood Sempervirens Room (next to Park Headquarters), and choose a book or two to read with your family, while sipping coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Drop by anytime between 1-3 and Docent Norm Beeson will help you find the perfect book for your family to enjoy, answer your questions about the park and provide a craft for your children.

Junior Rangers
Saturday, May 28 at 3 pm
Sunday, May 29 at 3 pm
Monday, May 30 at 11 am

Discover the fascinating secrets of the forest! Explore and play games as you learn about plants, animals and more. This one-hour program is for kids ages 7-12. Sorry parents, this program is for kids only! Please register your child at the Nature Lodge 15 minutes before the program begins. Please be sure your child is dressed for active play in the outdoors.

Big Basin Nature Club
Saturday, May 28 at 4:30 pm
Sunday, May 29 at 4:30 pm
Monday, May 30 at 10 am

This fun program is for children ages 3-6 and their whole families. Pretend, play, sing and explore! This half-hour program will introduce youngsters to the wonders of the redwood forest. Meet at the Nature Lodge.

Campfire Programs
Saturday, May 28 at 7 pm
Sunday, May 29 at 7 pm
Join us in our historic campfire center for an evening of song and story. Serenade the glittering stars and learn about redwood ecology, creatures of the forest or stories of the park while relaxing in the shadows of the towering trees. Fire lighting and marshmallow roasting (we provide the marshmallows and sticks!) starts at 7 pm and the program begins at 7:30 pm. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Good dogs welcome! Meet at the Campfire Center.

Family Discovery Walk
Monday, May 30 at 1 pm

Join Docent Norm Beeson for a fun-filled family walk and investigate the mysteries and wonders of Big Basin’s redwood forest! We’ll discover what surprises the day offers on this easy, one-mile roundtrip walk that lasts about 1.5 hours. Bring water, a snack and an adventurous spirit! Meet at Park Headquarters.

Annual Events for 2016

Romance in the Redwoods at Big Basin
Sunday, February 14, 2016 at 11:30 am
On this easy two-hour walk you'll learn about the courtship behaviors of some of the park's most fascinating plants and animals. Join us and discover how banana slugs, redwood trees and more celebrate love in the wild! Meet at Park Headquarters. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way. Day-use parking fee is $10.  More information is available at (831) 338-8883.  

Salamander Saturday at Rancho del Oso
Saturday, March 5, 2016 from Noon to 4 pm
Join us as the “Ranch of the Bear” becomes “Ranch of the Newt,” celebrating our amphibian friends that make their way from beneath rocks and under logs to the creeks, wetlands, and puddles of the park.  Participate in our annual celebration honoring the often overlooked, but heroically well -adapted amphibian native to the Santa Cruz Mountains and other moist habitats. Live amphibians will be available for viewing. Ranger-led salamander hike will start at 3 pm to search for these regal creatures on the mile long Marsh Trail. All age crafts and activities will be available at the Rancho del Oso Nature & History Center. 
Rancho del Oso is the coastal section of Big Basin located along Highway One. The Nature Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz along Highway One, at Waddell Creek at 3600 Hwy 1, Davenport, CA 95017.  Free. For more information, call (831) 427-2288.  

Wildflower Weekend at Rancho del Oso
Saturday April 23, 2016 from Noon to 4 pm
Sunday, April 24, 2016 from Noon to 4 pm
Winter rains promise a profusion of spring wildflowers in the Waddell Valley. Come see them on display in the Rancho del Oso Nature Center and visit them on the park's trails during the Rancho del Oso Wildflower Weekend. You will see buttercups, shooting stars, and western wake robin included in this annual exhibit of over fifty native plants in flower and several non-native species that are found in the western portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The assortment of shapes, sizes, colors, and forms are a delight to the senses.
Rancho Del Oso Nature and History Center is the coastal portion of Big Basin along Highway One. The Nature Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz along Highway One, at Waddell Creek For more information, please call (831) 427-2288.  3600 Hwy 1, Davenport, CA 95017

Mother’s Day Walk: Women of Big Basin
Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 1 pm

Celebrate Mother’s Day in the park by honoring the spirited women who lived in, worked in, and fought for the Basin throughout its history.  Living history reenactments bring you back in time where you will meet pioneer homemaker Alice Maddock; Josephine McCrackin, the “Savior of the Redwoods,” and Harriet “Petey” Weaver, the first female Ranger. Stroll through the magnificent redwoods on this half-mile, one-hour guided walk. Meet at Park Headquarters. This walk is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. The park is located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way. Day-use parking fee is $10.  More information is available at (831) 338-8883.
 
The Men of Big Basin—A Father’s Day Special Event
Sunday, June 19, 2016 at 1 pm

Celebrate Father’s Day by honoring some of the remarkable men who lived in, worked in, and fought for Big Basin. Living history re-enactments bring you back in time where you’ll meet pioneer settlers, Big Basin founders and early park rangers. Stroll through the magnificent redwoods on this half-mile, 1.5-hour guided walk. Wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way. Day-use parking fee is $10.  More information is available at (831) 338-8883.

Big Basin’s Fourth of July Weekend Celebration and Talent Show!
Saturday, July 2, 2016 at 7 pm

Come and celebrate Independence Day with a campfire, sing-a-long and talent show! If you have a skit, poem, song, or a talent you’d like to share, sign up at headquarters in advance. All presentations should be appropriate for all ages. Acts should be only 3-5 minutes in length. Participants need to arrive promptly at 6:30 p.m. Fire lighting and marshmallows (we provide the sticks and marshmallows!) at 6:30 pm; program begins at 7 pm. 
 
Tales of the Basin—A Storytelling Weekend Event

July 29 to 30, 2016 at Various times and locations throughout the weekend.
The oral storytelling tradition comes to life with the ancient redwood forest as a backdrop. Events throughout the weekend include Big Basin Nature Tails for children of all ages, guided walks that spin a yarn along the trail, and a Storyteller Showcase in the historic Campfire Center. Presented in collaboration with South Bay Storytellers and Listeners. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way. Day-use parking fee is $10.  More information is available at (831) 338-8883.

Grizzly Bear Festival at Rancho del Oso
Saturday, August 13, 2016 from Noon to 4 pm
Come to Rancho del Oso for a day of commemorating the once-abundant predator that roamed this "Ranch of the Bear." Discover what they ate, how they lived, and what made this area famous for its grizzly population.  Throughout the day there will be crafts and activities for all ages. Come visit the Nature and History Center to hear stories about this powerful animal. 
Rancho Del Oso Nature and History Center located is the coastal side of Big Basin along Highway One. The Nature Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz along Highway One, at Waddell Creek This event is appropriate for all ages.  Free.  For more information, call (831) 427-2288.  3600 Hwy 1, Davenport, CA 95017.

Big Basin Founders’ Day and Redwood Jubilee
Saturday, September 24, 2016 from 9 am to 8 pm
Celebrate our wild heritage with a melodrama, historic hikes, and games for kids as we honor the Visionaries, Valued Workers, and Visitors that have shaped the character of Big Basin over the past 100+ years. Revel in the beauty of the majestic old-growth redwoods that inspired the movement to Save the Trees! Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way. Day-use parking fee is $10.  More information is available at (831) 338-8883.
 
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
The Missing Arm of William Waddell
Saturday, October 22, 2016; Registration begins at 6:30 p.m.

History takes a tall tale twist as the saga of this early pioneer unfolds. The silly, slightly haunting tours around the redwood loop trail begin at 7:00 p.m. Enjoy the redwoods on a fall night with music, storytelling, and “Ranger Apples” around the campfire. All participants must register at Park Headquarters (registration opens at 6:30 p.m.). Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way. Day-use parking fee is $10.  More information is available at (831) 338-8883.

Redwood Loop Walks at Big Basin
Every Saturday and Sunday at 11 am and 2 pm (reduced winter schedule, call park for details)

How do these grand redwoods grow to be so old? So tall? How are they important to humans? Join us for this fun and informative guided half-mile stroll through a magnificent old-growth redwood forest. Meet the famous Mother Tree, the Father of the Forest, and the incredible Chimney Tree on this 90-minute walk. Stroller- and wheelchair-accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters.  Self-guided trail brochures also available.

Events made possible by California State Park Docents, California State Parks, and the Mountain Parks Foundation