EXPLORE: Big Basin Redwoods State Park
One of the things I really wanted to do when visiting Northern California was to see the Redwoods. When I was a kid, the Redwoods were always this sort of fantastic, unreal thing that only existed in cartoons. I mean how could anything ever actually be so big and so old?! I had to make it a point to see them in person! When visiting San Francisco, I had to go hiking for a day in Big Basin State Park!
My friend and I headed out from Mountain View after a quick breakfast. It turned out to be a super fun drive through the mountains in his ’69 Mustang! I hadn’t been on a road that curvy since the Road to Hana last May.
Park Headquarters and Visitor Center
When we arrived at Big Basin, we paid the $10 parking fee and found a parking spot off of North Escape Road. Our first stop was the Park Headquarters and Visitor Center. We grabbed a map and hit up the bathrooms before heading out.
Cross Cut of a Redwood
Before heading out on the trail, we took a peek at this cross cut of a tree by the Visitor Center. The dates on the tree, ranging from 544 to 1936, really put into perspective how old and grand the Redwoods really are.
After taking a few pictures, we headed South on Sequoia Trail. The trail had some debris and very muddy places due to the rain that had recently passed through the area. I was really glad I wore my gortex hiking boots!
The trail eventually hooked North and after about 2 miles of easy to moderate hiking, we made it to Sempervirens Falls. The falls were really beautiful with fallen trees and dappled sunlight. We stayed on the wooden observation deck for a few minutes taking in the sights.
After just a very short while, we made it to Slippery Rock. Slippery Rock was indeed very slippery and I’m actually not sure if it was easier to go up or down the slope. When hiking this part, be sure to check out the small perfect holes in the rock. This is where Cotoni and Quiroste tribes ground acorns and seeds into flour for food.
Deep in the Forest
We continued on Sequoia Trail until it intersected with Skyline to the Sea Trail. While hiking we saw trees that were simply breathtaking! I couldn’t believe the height and size or the Redwoods. There were beautiful details like exposed wood, both fresh and aged, as well as mushrooms, plants, and animal tracks.
One of the most beautiful sights of the day was the steam coming off the trees and wood and joining with the rays of the sun.
We continued down the Skyline to the Sea Trail until we came to a small footbridge which led us back to the main road (North Escape Road) and back to the car.
Talk about the day of a lifetime! I am so glad I made it out to Big Basin to see the Redwoods. They were absolutely beautiful. The Redwoods remind you of how small we are in the world and the age of them is simply unfathomable.
Going to Big Basin? If you’re headed out to Big Basin, I highly suggest you pack a backpack with a bottle of water, a snack or two, and any sort of first aid supplies or hiking supplies you might need. A compass would’ve been nice since we did get turned around once! I’d also suggest you take a flashlight, just in case! Cell phone service doesn’t work in Big Basin so if you need any maps or directional devices it’s best to have analog or paper. We saw a few people using hiking sticks as well.
What Should I Wear? We went hiking in January and the temperature seemed to fluctuate a lot throughout the day depending on the altitude and where the sun was. I wore a CuddleDuds Shirt, a Fleece Jacket, Jeggings, Wool Socks, and my Hiking Boots. Throughout the day we would take off jackets or add them back!
What Trail Should We Take? There are a lot of different trails and options. The easiest trail with the most groves of large Redwoods is the Redwood Loop Trail. There are longer hiking trails, like what we did, and trails for bikes and horses as well! If you are unsure, just ask at the Visitor Center! And don’t forget to grab a map!