Upon arrival at Big Basin State Park, the ranger hands you a small piece of paper with check boxes. Each carload needs to check where they will be hiking and list their equipment. The sheet is placed on their dashboard in case the car remains abandoned after sunset.
Why? Big Basin is a big park. 18,000 acres and 80 miles worth of hiking trails from moderate strolls through the Sequoia giants to ridgeline climbs in the Santa Cruz mountains. The trails are smooth, but not always well-marked, so a visit to the information station and a recommended path are essential.
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Slugs in the Redwood Forest
The beauty that can be found in California's oldest State Park brings Bay Area nature admirers from all over. The giant redwoods reach higher than the eyes can see in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The park has over 80 miles of trails, numerous dramatic waterfalls, a variety of animals, birds and environments. Camping, backpacking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding are some of the main features of this captivating park. Activities are also hosted by the park headquarters. On a cool, foggy and misty morning, I set out to conquer the 11 mile (strenuous) Berry Creek Falls loop hike. Along the way we passed three very different and captivating waterfalls and could not keep track of the many banana slugs we saw. After your long hike go to Boulder Creek Brewery for a burger and a cold one.
Muir Woods is a brief and memorable jaunt up highway 1 from the Golden Gate Bridge, and not to be missed.
However, for those seeking solitude amongst old growth Redwood trees, head south to Big Basin State Park just north of Santa Cruz.
The Redwood Trail Loop, a 1/2-mile loop takes visitors through oldest trees and those with the widest circumference; while the parks 80 or so other miles of trails offer plenty of space for hugging magnificent redwoods.
Going to see the redwoods is a must when in NorCal. Big Basin is easily a place where you could spend a day...or ten. Redwoods tower over hiking trails. The quiet of the forest surrounds you - even with other people around. There's something about the woods that just absorbs sound and makes everything around them peaceful.
Go spend a day with some redwoods, but definitely plan on a day or more. I went for a few hours and it wasn't nearly enough. There are campgrounds and all sorts of ways to make sure you can spend as much time there as you'd like.