Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest state park located just north of Santa Cruz. With more than 80 miles of trails through old-growth and second-growth redwoods and several waterfalls, this park is definitely on our bucket list of parks to fully explore! The bosslady confidently planned the trip on the AllTrails app the night before and then set out on a 2.5-hour drive from Santa Rosa early the next morning. Side note to anyone reading this, check the park website for trail closures. No joking. This should be done or you run the risk of being denied your ‘well planned out’ hike. However, you will not be denied a gorgeous redwood hike!
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Our last trip down to Big Basin Redwoods SP was last spring after we had some good rains to see the Sempervirens Falls. The short hike was stunning and had us hooked on this park! The large redwoods, the waterfalls, the feeling of peace in a very busy park, and the amazingly clean air is so addicting! The planned trail was to take the Sunset trail > Timms Creek trail > Skyline to the Sea to make a nice 7ish mile hike. Since we didn’t look at the state park site beforehand it ended up being an out and back hike on Sunset trail and was still 7ish miles. It was so worth it to see the beauty twice and in a different light!
The morning drive-in was smooth. Hardly any traffic, the fog had lifted, the air was warming and we were eager to hit the trails! The 1.5 lane road into Big Basin Redwoods SP looks different when it isn’t moody and foggy like our last visit. We could smell the redwoods and were instantly calmed while driving through. Careful to watch out for cyclists having an amazing time on the super smooth road! We got there just in time to find parking in the overflow lot. It worked out great as it was close to our trailhead.
If you haven’t been to this park yet, check out the visitor center and gift shop! The visitor center has some great information on the evolution of the park.
Starting off on the Skyline to the Sea trail we headed up toward the Sunset trail. Not too many other hikers were on the trail yet. The path was covered in this powder light dirt that went ‘poof’ every time you stepped down. It was a little distracting to watch instead of the gorgeousness around us! Following the switchbacks, through second-growth redwoods we climbed and climbed. It was a nice easy ascent due to the switchbacks and the trees seemed to get larger as we climbed. At the first peak, we crossed Middle Ridge Road and met up with a local. She had hiked this trail several times and told us how beautiful it is so we headed down into the canyon full of excitement.
Following the winding trail down and then back up and around we were met at every step with the beauty of a young redwood forest. Some were burned but surviving. Some were leaning on a friend. Some were tall and strong. Some were so young and green.
Things we can learn from redwoods:
Hold each other up, create a strong bond with family, and always reach for the stars.
Let the light reach the ground and support life around and below you.
The world around you may not be perfect but it can be beautiful and full of life.
Stand your ground and hold on even in the toughest times. You can flourish.
And then we came across this meadow of sorts in a canyon. Redwood sorrel covering the ground and beautiful mighty redwoods towering above us letting in rays of sunshine. In a hundred years this will be as amazing as the redwoods we were able to witness in Redwood National Park north of us in Humboldt County. The view brought forward the same sense of awe and calmness as we felt when we were in the forest of their older cousins up north. There’s something special about redwoods. You breathe deeper. You are calmer. You are at peace.
Snapping back to the task at hand, the hike, we hiked up out of the small canyon and enjoyed several more beautiful spots. The morning light peeking through the redwoods was brightening up the forest floor. It helped the bosslady dodge some of the roots sticking up. Hardly any trips this time!
Starting to sweat from the humidity, we reached the junction for the Timms Creek trail. Denied! Trail closed due to a dangerous bridge. Darn it! We paused there for a few minutes deciding if we wanted to make this 7ish mile hike into 11.5 miles and do the full loop or turn around. With the drive home looming in front of us we opted to turn around and try and do a small loop with a connector trail to the Skyline to the Sea trail. No big deal. We got to see this beauty twice! The sun was now directly above us giving the feeling of a different trail.
When we reached the connector trail we took it a little way and then saw a park sign showing this was a detour and our connector trail had been damaged in last year’s storms. Double darn it! Trees were down all over the place! They crisscrossed each other and limbs were scattered everywhere. It was crazy to see so much destruction! This is good for the forest to let in more light for the younger trees below but it was still crazy to see.
Back up to Sunset trail we went. Dripping with sweat from the humidity and trying not to breathe in too much of the powdery dirt, we followed Sunset trail back toward the Big Basin Redwoods park headquarters and started seeing more and more people! A lot of backpackers, a lot of families and a lot of people straining their necks to take in all of the beauty of this forest. So wonderful to see the younger generation getting out and enjoying mother nature! Everyone probably thought we did the full 11.5-mile hike by the way we looked. The humidity sort of got to us!
We walked back through the very crowded parking lot and plopped into the car. Changed out of our hiking shoes and grabbed our change of clothes then headed to the restrooms to change and sort of freshen up. Who are we kidding, we changed and drove home with the top down to air out! By the time we reached the freeway, we had eaten all of our snacks and our hair was once again dry. Up went the top and we were soon transported back home.
How do you feel about driving hours to get to your hike and then turning around and driving home after? Do you do it often? It’s good to get out and experience other areas but it sure can be exhausting. The bosslady and the hubs enjoyed a large dinner of goat cheeseburgers, veggies, and an earthy Cabernet Sauvignon…so deserved after a long, beautiful day exploring Big Basin Redwoods State Park!
Easy to moderate 7.8 miles with 1,729 total elevation gain (from all the ups and downs). Parking is $10, no dogs on the trails, flushing toilets at the park headquarters, food in the gift shop, the visitor center has a great museum, lots of parking but also lots of people! Don’t forget to check the Big Basin Redwoods State Park website for possible trail closures!
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Things We Love:
Our Osprey backpacks! Love the ventilation from the incredibly comfortable and ventilated tensioned mesh back panel with added adjustability for variations in torso length to provide fine-tuned customization fit for every hiker and backpacker. It took a bit to get the fit just right but once you find it, oh man it is wonderful. The weight is evenly distributed on your back and hips. The side pockets are handy for snacks and the bladder sleeve holds our 1.5-liter bladder. If we go on longer hikes we have 2 side pockets for water bottles or whatever else we want to put in there. We carry a first aid kit, tissues, camera equipment, and extra clothing in our packs and the Osprey does everything we need!
Check it out on Amazon by clicking on the picture below:
Where else can you find us?
Don’t forget to check out the video of the hike on our Hike Then Wine YouTube channel!