no dogs


nature trips


trail running



kid friendly




wild flowers

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, giant ancient coast redwood groves that are home to 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, old-growth redwood forest, more than 80 miles of paved roads and popular 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. Beautiful waterfalls, banana slugs, 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 entrances into Big Basin are windy roads. 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. Dogs are only allowed on the paved trails.

2 days ago

Very calm and tranquil hike. Feels like a peaceful place throughout. Only disappointment was the semperviren falls. I wouldn't call it a waterfall. It is just a small drip of water falling off a rock. The entire height of the fall is about 5 or 6 meters only

6 days ago

Brought my hiking group up on a perfect day - I always plan around CLEAR WEATHER for this hike. Near the top of my list of favorite hikes in San Mateo County - although its not for everyone. Hardest part is the first mile - you climb 1000+ feet on a switchback trail in the shaded woods; it helps to stop at the lookouts and catch your breath or suck on an orange slice. Once you get up on the road, the landscape completely changes to knob pines, chinquapins & "the Chalks." For the most part you'll be trailing on top of the ridge as you head to Chalk Mtn and its terrific "backdoor" views of Big Basin SP. At Chalk Mtn. there's a radio tower and a toilet (a "Loo with a View") & brief cell reception. If you want a picnic table, walk west of the radio tower on the small flat hill above the road. You return the way you came to your parking spot on Whitehouse Road (technically your starting place is in Ano Nuevo State Preserve.) Don't forget to bring WATER!

6 days ago

Brought an older hike group up the trail on a quiet weekday in the park. It was a clear, sunny day in the 70s and since most of the trail is shaded, very comfortable, even the open exposure at the top. What a great place to have lunch! Love the views and going from redwoods into chinquapin and knobby pines. Most had trekking poles and all were well prepared with good footwear. This was helpful for the bit of rock climbing needed along the trail. The trail is mostly single track, so put your faster pace hikers in the front as long as they can be relied on to read a map or interpret park signage. Having been here before, we didn't take any wrong turns on the trail but our total mileage was more like 4.7 miles with 1200' elevation gain.

17 days ago

Very short and easy hike. Large walking space. Great views of the redwoods! Mother and father redwoods are along this trail.

I'll admit I was unsure of the trails quality for the first half of the detoured loop, a detour because a good third of the stated loop is rendered unhike-able. Once we reached the waterfalls, though, wow. After the waterfall (moving counter-clock) you reach the trail's maximum elevation where the terrain shifts suddenly from the damp redwood covered valley floor to dry granite ridges.

Nature rocks.

Absolutely fun hike. A must for anyone with an itch for nature and to escape.

We did this on Saturday, 9/15 and was amazing. Love it. The parking lot does get crowded, but the trails aren’t. So, it was lovely and mostly shaded.

1 month ago

My first hike in this area. Redwoods were beautiful to view. Was disappointed we missed the falls as the signage wasn’t clear. The last half mile or so is on the road. All in all a decent shady walk.

I hike often and am relatively fit (mid 20s, female, athletic) and this trail took 3 hours to complete with a bit of trail running and a light pack. Paid $10 for parking at the trailhead. It’s a pretty waterfall and hiking through the redwoods was gorgeous. Recommend arriving early so you have the trail to yourself. Slightly difficult to navigate with trail closures so grab a free map at the visitor center!

Scenery: 4.5
Views: 3
Difficulty: 4 Including Fall loop trail
Crowds: 2
Shade: 4

My 1-5 Rating Scale Comparisons for above:
5 for Scenery; Mcway Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
4.5 for Scenery: Berry Creek Falls Big Basin State Park
4 for Scenery: Steep Ravine Trail

5 for Views: Nimitz Trail Tilden Park
5 for Views: Ridge Trail San Bruno Mtn Park
4.5 for Views Montara Mtn Summit San Pedro County Park
4 for Views Rancho Canada Del Oro Bald Peaks trail

5 for Difficulty: Junipero Serra Peak
4 for Difficulty: Mount El Sombroso Loop Trail

1 month ago

We liked the hike, pretty and quite easy. A lot of trees! It was quiet despite the presence of people and the proximity of the road for half the trail. We missed the waterfalls, so if you want to see them, keep a eye on them on the map, because we didn't see any sign.

Despite the throngs of people at the trailhead car park (Saturday 9 am) this was actually a reasonably quiet loop. I’m quite a fast hiker and completed it in just under 4 hours. If you are used to hiking or are otherwise fit,, you will probably agree that it is pretty easy terrain (though there are warning signs about its difficulty, so it’s important, as always, to really know your ability). Pretty views out to the sea (probably shrouded in fog in winter). The falls are not all that big, but are pretty. Diverse views and ecosystems. Definitely talk to one of the excellent staff rangers when you go in as they can give very clear instructions about how to start (I suggest counter-clockwise) in a way that is not obvious on the all trails or the paper map. I will definitely return and do this as a trail run! A warning: by 1 pm the car park was packed and rows of cars were waiting. Strongly encourage weekday or v early starts!

on Sequoia Trail

1 month ago

Half the trail is by the road , but the other half is a beautiful walk in the forest. There has a big hill you need to climb to complete the loop, but other than that incline was pretty mild.

1 month ago

I hiked this in April 2017. I loved being surrounded by the large sequoia trees. Nice trail, some hills but overall I found it to be a peaceful and tranquil hike. Very heavily forested with a nice waterfall.

2 months ago

Wonderful trail, highly recommend going toward the winter given all the dried up river beds. Definitely not an easy trail! to eagle rock is about 1.9 mi with ALL of the elevation gain on the way there.

Lovely, well-marked short trail. Most of it is in the shade. The climbs aren't challenging. During the summer, the river is almost totally dry.

Very quiet for a weekend. Not a lot of people on this trail. Pretty flat all the way through. Falls were very pretty, inaccessible due to restoration but you can still get pretty close. Would totally do the trail again.

2 months ago

Good workout on a quiet trail, even on Labor Day. Most of the hike is in the shade, but the top is in the sun. I wore my Sketchers walking shoes and they were just fine. You do need to climb a couple of boulders, but nothing too hard.

So much fun!!!!

The fall is not rushing but a nice even flow right now.

Get there early! I went on a holiday weekend and didn’t arrive until 1 pm, parking was full. Ended up being able to pay for a spot at a camping site thanks to the good graces of some campers but otherwise would’ve missed out on the park. This hike is nice trip through the redwoods with a rewarding desert like summit. Nice workout at a quick pace but not super challenging. Took me 2 hours.

The directions to the trail head from All Trails didn’t work. We were routed up Empire Grade, which dead ended in a Lockheed facility. We turned around and re-routed toward Little Basin and eventually got there to find out that the hiking is limited to campers only. They still let us hike (for a fee), and we did the Tanbark trail loop. The start of the trail was a climb, but a well kept and nice trail. Lots of shade for a hot day!

2 months ago

2 months ago

I loved this hike! Beautiful views and great shade. I came back on Middle Ridge Rd. instead of coming back on Hollow Tree Trail and really enjoyed it.

Beautiful hike in the Redwoods. Pro’s: a lot of secluded moments amongst the gigantic trees. Cons: the last two miles were on a trail right next to the main road into the campground, where you go through a lot of campsites. Would definitely do the hike again - note that the first two miles are pretty straight up a hill. There is quite a bit of steep downhill miles 3 and 4. The whole hike is super well marked. Also well shaded. Don’t really need sunscreen but would recommend mosquito repellent!

2 months ago

Great trail but all trails length is inaccurate it’s really 3 miles

I do this hike every year and it’s amazing! If you park a car at the beach you can go all the way thru instead of a loop.

Great hike among the beautiful redwoods. There are a couple of trail closures so check with the park ranger first. Trail is mostly shaded. The last hill was challenging, so we rewarded ourselves with ice cream at the park store.

This trail is a little boring, and the water fall is too small.

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