Sunday, February 19, 2012

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

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Big Basin Redwoods State Park

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Coastal redwood trees (Sequoia Sempervirens)
  • Sempervirens Falls
  • Slippery Rock

More Info
  • $10/car parking fee (cash only)
  • Souvenir shop at the entrance
  • Restrooms at several trails

On a nice Sunday morning, a little over an hour’s drive from San Jose took us to the oldest state park in California, Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Luckily, the ~20mile sinuous roads did not make our stomachs queasy.

We were given a trail map at the park entrance after paying $10 parking fee. The national park features 80 miles of trails and we took the ~4mile Sequoia trail and 0.5 mile Redwood Trail. The other popular trail is the ~12 mile Berry Creek trail that takes you through the four other waterfalls in the Big Basin. Hiking the Berry Creek Trail is certainly on our to-do list.

Sequoia Trail – North Escape Road

Length: ~4 miles; Elevation: 600 feet; Time: 3 hours; Difficulty: Easy

The Sequoia trail, which is one of the oldest trails in the park, begins at the opposite side of the road (236). About a mile into trail is a little detour with clear signposts that took us to the popular Sempervirens falls. We crossed the road and walked down a short stairway to see the beautiful ~20 feet falls amongst the lush forest.

Sempervirens Falls

As we continued our way back into the Sequoia trail, we came across the extraordinary Slippery Rocks, running to about 200 yards long, 100 yards wide and tilted at a thirty degree angle. It is probably here that the trail reaches its maximum elevation. Though the rocks were not too slippery, we were being prudent to not step our feet on the rocks where there was a lot of water. After climbing up the Slippery Rocks, it was spectacular sight to look back at the surrounding neck-straining coast redwood trees.

Slippery Rocks

I later learned that the Slippery Rocks is an exposed slab of Miocene sandstone. Apparently, the underwater springs seep through the ground and flow down the rocks making it a little slippery, hence the name. 

The Slippery Rocks also has a deep historical significance. It is in this place that the Sempervirens Club was formed with the objective of preserving the Big Basin as a public park. 

Sequoia Trail

As we continued further into the tapering Sequoia Trail through an awning of the giant redwood trees, we could not help but think about how similar it was to the Muir Woods trail. We then reached a place where the trail forked into North Escape Road and Skyline to the Sea Trail. We took the paved North Escape Road to reach the park headquarters.

The trail signs and the trail map were a tad confusing; and not receiving the cell phone signal (maps are a heaven) made it hard on us to figure out where we were!

Redwood Trail

Length: 0.5 miles; Elevation: Flat; Time: 30 min; Difficulty: Easy

This popular, easy, half a mile Redwood Trail is home to some of the tallest redwoods in the Big Basin. The trees with the widest circumference are named as “Mother of the Forest” and “Father of the Forest”. The Chimney tree, which was once recorded as being the tallest tree (~320 feet) smoldered for 14months in a forest fire and now stands at ~290 feet in this trail.

Mother of the Forest

It is interesting how several of these redwoods have a hollow bark, one could stand inside the tree hole and look up at the sky through the bark.

We spent a few minutes in the souvenir shop, looking at the cute little things and hunger would not let us stay any longer in the park. I wish we had brought some food with us; we had snacks, but that did not help too much.

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