Big Basin Waterfall Loop Hike

Boulder Creek Travel Blog

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Inside a giant redwood... how did that treestump get in there?

Hike Stats:

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.

The road to Boulder Creek, the nearest town to the park, is very windy, full of Uturns and Scurves and all sorts of ridicuolousness. I once drove a cargo van to pick up a couch in Boulder Creek. That was scary. 

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.

Berry Creek Falls
Berry Creek Falls was named after Tilford George Berry, an 1800's homesteader and "loner" who apparently kept only a rifle as his companion.  One day, he went off into the woods and never came back. 25 years later, a local doctor was walking through the woods and stumbled across Berry's skeleton, with a bullet in the skull. The doctor did the only logical thing: he wired together Berry's bones and kept Mr. Berry as decoration in his doctor's office.

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.

Silver Falls
The falls isn't impressive from the trail, but up close, it's gorgeous. One of the best things about Silver Falls is the fact that the trail leeds right up to the top of it from alongside it, via a steep series of stone stairs, wet from the spray.

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.

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Inside a giant redwood... how did …
Inside a giant redwood... how did…
Berry Creek Falls
Berry Creek Falls
Silver Falls
Silver Falls
Berry Creek Falls
Berry Creek Falls
Berry Creek Falls
Berry Creek Falls
Golden Cascade
Golden Cascade
redwoods
redwoods
some kind of salamandar thingy
some kind of salamandar thingy
redwoods
redwoods
Golden Cascade
Golden Cascade
Golden Cascade
Golden Cascade
Silver Falls
Silver Falls
Boulder Creek
photo by: mahoney