Superlatives define Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains. California’s oldest state park - covering more than 18,000 acres from sea level to more than 2,000 feet elevation - launched the state park movement in California. Big Basin’s biggest attraction – literally – is a rare stand of awe-inspiring, ancient coast redwoods that are among the tallest and oldest trees on Earth. Some measure close to 300 feet tall and 50 feet in circumference. Scientists estimate that these trees may range from 1,000 to 2,000 years old. Spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, more than 80 miles of roads and trails, and a fascinating natural and cultural history have beckoned millions of visitors to Big Basin since 1902. Each season offers a different park experience. The intense greens of mosses contrast with the subtle colors of lichens and mushrooms during wet winters. Rushing waterfalls and wildflowers abound in the cool, foggy spring. Find a shady getaway from inland heat in summertime. Fall offers pleasant weather without storms, pests or extreme heat. The park is about 65 miles south of San Francisco. From Santa Cruz travel approx 25 miles northwest via Highways 9 and 236 to reach Park Headquarters. Park Headquarters is 9 miles north of the town of Boulder Creek on State Hwy 236. All roads into Big Basin are curvy. The Rancho Del Oso coastal unit of Big Basin is accessible on State Route 1, about 20 miles north of the city of Santa Cruz. The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park.
I'd put this at more moderate, but is absolutely lovely. Highly recommend clockwise so you're going up the stairs at the falls instead of down as well as having a more pleasant up and down for the second half of the hike rather than a final long steep uphill if you go counter-clockwise. Tons of mushrooms and banana slugs out today, and the waterfalls are all running nicely - take layers, you'll change through microclimates a bunch of times.
we parked at Waddell Beach and hiked up to Berry Falls. beautiful scenery and mostly cool temps, in late November. we had lunch by the waterfall and it was beautiful. going back was super easy. my feet were killing me but it was well worth it. 5 hours round trip, no problem!
Great hike with several waterfalls through the stunning Great Basin redwoods. Going counterclockwise leads to a massive elevation increase near the end. Starts out low elevation near creeks in the redwood forest before going up on a ridge to descend down to the various waterfalls. After the waterfalls, a huge climb to the Mt. McAbee overlook with gorgeous views out to the Pacific. Redwoods, waterfalls, and banana slugs make for plenty of photo ops.
Going at a brisk pace with relatively frequent photo stops and a lunch break at Berry Creek Falls took us ~5 hours.
Recommend going clockwise. consistent uphill for about a mile, then downhill for over 3 miles. if you go counterclockwise, as the description recommends, this long stretch uphill will be about 7 miles in. 6 miles back from berry creek were a nice variation of climb and descent, and very manageable in under 5 hours. some lovely large trees, and nice water flowing, even for labor day weekend
pretty cool hike. Definitely need a map. You need to take a few different trails to get to the trailhead. The loop was about 10 miles, plus 2 miles to the trailhead. Pry 6 hours at a slow and steady pace. There's a pretty good incline coming out of the trail. If you see Berry Falls last the incline is a steady 4 miles up, others wise it's 6 miles up, but at a easier pace. Take Water.