Hiking Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Just north of Santa Cruz on the California coast, 80 miles of trails and dirt roads snake through massive 1,500-year-old coast redwoods, along the edge of waterfalls, through dry and dense high chaparral, and even to a beach on the Pacific Ocean. It's all part of California's oldest state park, Big Basin, established in 1902 to protect more than 3,000 acres of old-growth redwood forest.
Spanning 18,000 acres from the Santa Cruz mountains to the ocean, Basin's many steep peaks and valleys create diverse microclimates that host a variety of wildlife; there are black-tailed deer and gray foxes, banana slugs and California newts in the luxuriantly moist forests and lizards basking on the dry ridges, even marbled murrelets or "fog larks," an endangered seabird about the size of a robin, that feed on the ocean but nest only in the high canopy of ancient coastal forests.
Though Basin is very popular and busy, most visitors hike a few popular routes, leaving the others relatively quiet. If you have time, don't miss the freshwater marsh and nature center.
A few words to the wise: Bring a water filter device or pack enough water for two days; creek water is not potable. Also, the raccoons are aggressive, so suspend your food.
Article © Dave Brian Butvill, 2000.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication