Big Basin Waterfall Loop Hike
Boulder Creek Travel Blog› entry 16 of 18 › view all entries
Length: 11.5 miles (plus .2 detour)
Elevation change: 400 up, 1000 down, then up and down and up and down
Time: 5 hours
Location: Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Trailhead: Big Basin Ranger Station
Route: Skyline to Sea Trail (4 miles) to Berry Creek Trail (2 miles) to Sunset trail (5.5 miles)
Highlights: Giant redwood groves, Berry Creek Falls, Silver Falls, Golden Cascade Falls
Fees: $6 day use parking
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is in the Santa Cruz mountains about 1+ hours from Santa Cruz and 1+ hours from San Jose. It's best known for its redwood groves, but in the springtime, a series of strikingly elegant waterfalls comes alive.
We started off from San Jose (see review below) a little past 9AM.
We started hiking around 10:30AM from the ranger station. There's about a mile of gradual uphill before you reach a sign warning you that the rest of the way is "strenuous". From there, the trail descends rapidly downhill, winding around deep wooded valleys. All around, giant redwoods reach to the sky, creating a shaded canopy that protects you from the sun throughout almost the entire hike.
About 4 or 5 miles in, we turned onto Berry Creek Trial, and before long we reached Berry Creek Falls, a picturesque 70 ft drop of clear mountain water, with a nice little viewing area right in front.
The trail now climbs up to the top of Berry Creek Falls and along the creek. Before long, it reaches the foot of Silver Falls. Silver Falls is more secluded than Berry Creek, as many people turn back at Berry Creek. From the trail, the view is a bit blocked by fallen trees, but you can actually get down right under the waterfall for a much better view and a much more secluded feel.
Immediately above Silver Falls is Golden Cascade Falls, clearly identifiable by the orangey yellow color of the rock it flows over. The falls is actually a series of cascades, an you encounter tier after tier going up the trail. There are several nice little flat and rocky areas here to just chill out and have lunch.
About 6 miles in, Berry Creek Trial intersects the Sunset Trail, which takes you all the way back to the ranger station. This section was 5.5 miles of moderately gradual ups and downs, through redwood groves, across creeks via wooden bridges and along scenic ridges.