Big Basin State Park has over 80 miles of trails and tons of camping options (Backcountry trail camps, tent camping and our new favorite – tent cabins!) that allow us to hike then camp then wine then hike. After a very chilly night camping at Limekiln SP the night before, a tent cabin with a wood stove inside was a wonderful treat!
Camping at Big Basin SP was perfect for us to get in a couple hikes with some relaxation in between. The best part? We were IN the redwood forest!
We reached Big Basin SP a little early for check in so we hit the trails. We wanted a shorter hike and wanted to explore more of the trails we haven’t been on before. Slippery rock was perfect! Redwoods, waterfalls, rock formations and history!
We hiked the loop clockwise from the visitor center. Starting on the Skyline to Sea trail and following Opal Creek we felt the quiet excitement we usually feel being in the redwoods. Leaving the crowds near the visitor center we headed toward Sequoia trail. To be honest, this part of Skyline to Sea trail isn’t all that scenic but it does lead you away from all the people!
Crossing Opal Creek we started to climb up gently. Bays were reaching over the trails, younger redwoods stood tall, ferns lined our path and in the background you could hear sounds of the main road into the park. Sequoia trail crosses Big Basin Way and immediately starts to head down.
Leaving the cover of the redwoods, the trail opens up to a meadow and a very large rock face that would be so much fun if it were a slide! Thankfully the rock was dry so it wasn’t slippery as we hiked straight down. At the bottom, turn around and check out what you just climbed down!
Following Sequoia trail down we crossed Sky Meadows Road and were greeted by Sempervirens Falls. This is a beautiful spot to pause and take in the sound of the waterfall surrounded by the forest!
Winter hiking definitely has its plus sides, less people, cooler temps and way less flying bugs. It does, however, have muddy trails, shorter daylight hours and cooler temps.
The closer we got to the visitor center the more people we started to see. Love that families are out exploring this beautiful place and fully believe if our future leaders are exposed to nature early in life they will be more likely to protect it later.
We stopped in at the visitor center to check in and headed over to our cabin full of excitement! A whole new experience and we didn’t have to worry about our broken tent!
Huckleberry Tent Cabins
After a great hike around Big Basin SP, we were able to check into our tent cabin. Tired from the sleepless night camping before and our hike we were excited to not have to set up a broken tent and could just relax and make dinner. The HUGE plus was the wood stove inside! We were going to stay warm!
The Huckleberry Tent Cabins are furnished with a table and 2 queen size platform beds. The mattress is a few inches thick and covered in thick plastic. Windows with screens on them were on 2 sides of the cabin with a roll down canvas to keep in the warmth. The best part was the wood stove in the corner!
Thankful for the woodstove, we unpacked and got the fire going to warm up the cabin. December in the redwoods is pretty darn chilly so this was great!
Dinner was cooked outside on the barely working camp stove and brought inside with the wine. We hung our lanterns from the rafters, set up our camp chairs closer to the fire and enjoyed our dinner and wine. Ahhhh. So relaxing! Totally spoiled now!
The cabin was warm while the fire was going but sometime in the middle of the night the fire went completely out (we didn’t bring enough wood with us) and we were cold. When we woke up we could see our breath in the cabin! It was just above freezing! We skipped our morning showers and opted to hit the trails early. We had a big hike ahead of us!
Berry Creek Falls Loop
Berry Creek Falls has been on our bucket list for YEARS! Depending on which website you read, it is between 10 and 12 miles. Our AllTrails app went a little wonky on the hike and said we were at 14.9 when we ended. Any way you look at it, it was a looong gorgeous hike! People had already beat us onto the trails but thankfully it wasn’t super busy. This is a very popular hike in Big Basin SP especially since it has 3 waterfalls!
Starting off the hike at 32 degrees, we hiked a little faster than normal just to warm up. Taking the Skyline to the Sea trail we were immediately immersed in the redwoods again. We had a couple of detours along the way (trails closed) and eventually dropped down and followed the creek. The past few years of storms has really taken its toll on this park. Trees were down, one fell while we were there, leaving the trails to be more like obstacle courses in some places. Did we mind? Nope! It was too pretty there!
Berry Creek Falls Trail
We crossed West Waddell Creek and could start to hear the sounds of Berry Creek Falls. Excited we were close to the falls and the halfway point we picked up our pace a bit. This is also where we first ran into other hikers. They had gone the opposite direction of us and encouraged us to do the full loop. We were tired from our adventures but did have enough food and water with us so we took their advice and ended up hitting all 3 waterfalls. So thankful we did!
Berry Creek Falls was so beautiful! We had just had some rain so it was flowing good. The hike up to the falls is incredible! Probably the best part of the hike. You have the excitement of seeing them, you can hear them, but you stop because it is so insanely beautiful right where you are. The large redwoods towering above, the ferns lining the path and the sun filtering in just enough to highlight all of this beauty.
We paused for probably 10 minutes at the overlook taking it all in. We had finally made it here and it was even better than we thought! A runner stopped just long enough to take a quick photo, say hello to us, and keep going…show off. 😉 Having been told by him and the other hikers we ran into that it was definitely worth the hike up to the other falls we pressed on.
Berry Creek Falls trail follows Berry Creek until you reach Sunset Trail. The next waterfall that wowed us was Silver Falls. Not quite as spectacular as Berry Creek Falls but definitely beautiful! AND you get to climb up these large rock steps to the top of the falls and look down! What?!! It was so great to get that close to the falls and still be completely safe! It was a little unnerving as it was a narrow trail with just a chain/cord to keep you from falling. So fun!
Not much further along the trail we came across Golden Cascade Falls. It was more of a really cool water slide for water to flow down. And yes, we got to walk to the top of these too!
After the waterfalls we started to climb up Sunset Trail….and up and up.
Sunset trail started to climb up above the mighty redwoods. We left the shelter of the giants and entered a much more arid forest. Hiking in full sunshine for a bit with views above the trees out toward the ocean. Love how much variety Big Basin SP offers!
Soon we were back down in the comfort of the redwoods and came to our second favorite spot along the trail. There’s this valley of beautifully strong and straight redwoods. We had been to this part of Sunset trail before and it still makes you stop and soak it all in. We also had this all to ourselves! Definitely worth spending the night in the cold and getting on the trails early! Even now, the memory of this spot stays with us.
As we continued on Sunset trail back to our parking spot we enjoyed the quiet only redwood forests can provide.
Reaching the end, we were tired and hungry and wanted to nap but still had 1 more adventure waiting for us! A night camping along the beach in Half Moon Bay….in the freezing cold. 🙂
We ate our lunch then headed up the coast toward Half Moon Bay leaving the redwoods in our rearview mirror, just for a little while.
The entrance fee into Big Basin SP is $10 and offers tons of trails, clean restrooms, and ranger led hikes. Don’t forget to stop in their visitor center to learn the history of California’s oldest state park!
Camping: There are 35 tent cabins in the Huckleberry Campground and we highly recommend this option during the winter!! It was definitely worth the extra $$ and they offer packages you can add on which are great for people traveling without camping gear. Flushing toilets and coin showers are available in the campground.
Slippery Rock – 5.4 miles with 669 ft elevation gain, easy hike with a lot to see! Sorry, no dogs on the trails in the park.
Berry Creek Falls Loop – Per the state park website, this loop is 10.5 miles with a 2,150 ft elevation gain. With the detours it is more like 11+ miles. More than likely not the 14.9 miles our app recorded. Would rate this hike as difficult due to the length and elevation change and absolutely worth every sore muscle!
Things We Love
A good pair of socks can make or break a long hike. We love to take care of our feet with good hiking shoes (we both lean toward trail runners) and a very good pair of socks. We both use Thorlos Experia thin cushion running low cut socks.
They don’t slip down into your shoe. They have moisture wicking padding around the toes, ball of foot and heel. The arch and top are thinner material allowing the tootsies to breath better on hot hikes. The bosslady has super sensitive and picky feet that barely tolerate hiking shoes let alone socks. These are the only ones she will wear!
Don’t be deterred by the price, we have been hiking in the same few pairs (each) for a few years now and they are still holding up great! Totally worth the extra $$ to get quality socks.
Click on the link below and head on over to Amazon to see if they have your favorite color!
Almost didn’t want to post the Berry Creek Falls loop stats since it is so far off but it does show the trails…
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