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Activities and Programs

All events and activities are free. Day-use parking fee is $10 per vehicle.

Events made possible by Mountain Parks Foundation, California State Park volunteers, and California State Parks.

DECEMBER

Redwood Grove Loop Walk
Saturdays and Sundays at 1 pm
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.

Mushroom Hunt!
Sunday, December 4 at 11 am
Sunday, December 18 at 11 am
Big Basin is home to many different species of fungi. Some look like our traditional pizza mushrooms, but others are wildly colored, strangely shaped, very small, smelly or slimy. Join Ranger Emily Bertram as she hunts for mushrooms. Learn the important role they play in the forest, who eats them and how to identify them. This is a family-friendly, easy 1.5-hour walk. (Picking mushrooms in a state park is illegal, so we’ll just be looking.) Meet at Headquarters.

Exploring Big Basin
Tuesdays at 9 am
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
Saturday, December 3 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
Saturday, December 3 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! Rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Discover Big Basin Redwoods Hike!
Saturday, December 3 at noon
Saturday, December 10 at noon
Explore the park’s less travelled backcountry with Docent Barry Grimm. This moderately paced hike is individually tailored to your group. Based on group size, experience level and weather conditions, we'll choose from the many trails that explore our most scenic areas. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Old-Time Redwood Grove Loop Walk
Saturday, December 3 at 2 pm
Join Docent Scott Peden as he leads us on an old-fashioned redwood grove loop walk. Over the years, this walk meandered over a much longer distance and passed by many old buildings and even older trees. See photos from then, and compare them to what it looks like now. Scott has 80-100 year old maps and photos of that era—we'll stop by the exact spots those old photos were taken and learn something about the past! We’ll cover half of the old loop walk in a one-mile, 90-minute walk. This is a different walk than November’s. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Volunteer with the Trail Crew
Saturday, December 10 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.

Coffee Talk and Crafts
Saturday, December 10 from 9 am to noon
Saturday, December 17 from 9:30 am 12:30 pm
Saturday, December 24 from 9:30 am 12:30 pm
Saturday, December 31 from 9:30 am 12:30 pm
Come to the Sempervirens Room next to Park Headquarters for free coffee or hot chocolate! This is a great way to start your day in Big Basin. A 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 activity!

Hike to Buzzard’s Roost
Saturday, December 10 from 10 am to 2 pm
Develop your hiking muscles with this challenging 5-mile round trip to Buzzard’s Roost. Join Docent Steve Stolper for a hike to a dramatic rock formation with a commanding view of the park. We gain 1,200 feet in elevation on the way up. After a relaxed lunch on the rocks, we return to headquarters. Bring at least one liter of water, lunch, snacks, and appropriate clothing. Rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Berry Creek Falls Hike
Sunday, December 11 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.

Wildflower Walk!
Saturday, December 17 at 10 am
Sunday, December 18 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 four-mile, four-hour amble that includes two chimney trees and a waterfall. Sunday’s walk is a relaxed five-mile, five-hour amble that includes a chimney tree. Bring water and lunch. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Meteor Trail Hike
Saturday, December 17 at 11 am
Join a Big Basin Docent 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.

Outlook from Mt. McAbee
Saturday, December 31 at 11 am
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.

Snakes Alive!
Saturday, December 31 from noon to 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 Sempervirens Room at Park Headquarters and meet Docent Diane Shaw and learn about the fascinating world of snakes. Stop by anytime to meet the snake and talk to Diane.

First Day Activities
Sunday January 1, 2017
Start your year off right, with a rejuvenating visit to California’s oldest state park! Enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, and connect with nature and our ancient redwoods.

Buzzard’s Roost Hike
Sunday, January 1 at 9 am
Join Docents Kathy Willott and Glenn Joy for a hike to Buzzard’s Roost. We’ll take an early hike in hopes of seeing things that might be hiding later in the day and share our findings as we go. We’ll watch the environment change as we climb and enjoy the view from the top. Hikers should be able to do a steady uphill grade for 2.5 miles (elevation gain about 1,200 ft.), but we’ll go at a pace that allows us to enjoy what we see. Wear good walking shoes, dress in layers and bring snacks. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Coffee Talk and Crafts
Sunday, January 1 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
Come to the Sempervirens Room next to Park Headquarters for free coffee or hot chocolate! This is a great way to start your day in Big Basin. Docent Norm Beeson 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 activity!

Hike to Ocean View Summit
Sunday, January 1 from 10 am to 2:30 pm
Escape the crowds on this 6-mile loop through shaded forest to a hilltop view of the coast.  Join Docent Steve Stolper as we climb the Meteor Trail through the trees, gaining 600 feet before emerging at Ocean View Summit. After a relaxed lunch we descend back into the forest and return to headquarters. Bring at least one liter of water, lunch, snacks, and appropriate clothing. This hike runs rain or shine. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Shadowbrook Stroll
Sunday, January 1 at 11 am
Join Docent Tom Batley 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 four-mile, 3.5-hour hike. Bring water and good hiking shoes. Meet at Park Headquarters. In case of rain, Tom will lead a hike up beautiful, and paved, North Escape Road.

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

Redwood Grove Loop Walk
Sunday, January 1 at 1 pm
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.

California State Parks Backpacking

backpackers on the trail

Looking for your next adventure?

Naturalist-led backpacking trips are being offered summer 2017 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Please click here for more information.






Annual Events

Romance in the Redwoods
Sunday February 12, 2017 at 11:30 am
On this easy 2 hour walk you will 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.

Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Salamander Saturday
Saturday March 4, 2017 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. Live amphibians will be available for viewing. Ranger led salamander hike will start at 3 pm on the mile long Marsh Trail. This free event is appropriate for all ages. The Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, at 3600 Highway 1 in Davenport. Rancho del Oso is the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is not accessible by vehicle from Big Basin Headquarters off of Highway 236. For more information, please call (831) 427-2288, or email parksRDOPIS@parks.ca.gov.

Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Wildflower Weekend
Saturday, April 22, 2017 from Noon to 4 pm
Sunday, April 23, 2017 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 coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The assortment of flower shapes, sizes, colors and forms are a delight to the senses. This free event is appropriate for all ages. The Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, at 3600 Highway 1 in Davenport. Rancho del Oso is the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is not accessible by vehicle from Big Basin Headquarters off of Highway 236. For more information, please call (831) 427-2288, or email parksRDOPIS@parks.ca.gov.

Mother’s Day Walk: Women of Big Basin
Sunday May 14, 2017 at 1 pm
Celebrate Mother’s Day in the park by honoring the spirited women who lived in, worked in and fought for Big 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 0.5 mile, 1 hour guided walk. Meet at Park Headquarters. This walk is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

The Men of Big Basin—A Father’s Day Special Event
Sunday June 18, 2017 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 will 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.

Fourth of July Weekend Celebration and Talent Show!
Saturday July 1, 2017 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 would like to share, sign up at headquarters in advance. All 3-5 minute presentations should be appropriate for all ages. Fire lighting and marshmallows (we provide the sticks and marshmallows!) at 7 pm; program begins at 7:30 pm.

Tales of the Basin—A Storytelling Weekend Event
July 28 to 30, 2017, 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.

Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Grizzly Bear Festival
Saturday September 2, 2017 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! This free event is appropriate for all ages. Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, at 3600 Highway 1 in Davenport. Rancho del Oso is the coastal portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and is not accessible by vehicle from Big Basin Headquarters off of Highway 236. For more information, please call (831) 427-2288, or email parksRDOPIS@parks.ca.gov.

Big Basin Founders’ Day and Redwood Jubilee
Saturday September 30, 2017 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! 

The Missing Arm
Saturday October 21, 2017; Registration begins at 6:30 pm
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 pm. 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 pm).

Events made possible by Mountain Parks Foundation, Waddell Creek Association, California State Park Volunteers, and California State Parks.