California’s Big Basin Redwoods State Park

A recent wedding in the Santa Cruz area gave me an opportunity to visit California’s oldest State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, its biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 2,500 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history.”

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

An Early Morning Visit

Since I had only three hours available to visit the Park, I left my Ben Lomond lodging early in the morning and followed Highway 9 north to Boulder Creek, turned left (west) on Highway 236 and followed the winding two-lane road approximately 9 miles.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Arriving at the Park Headquarters and Visitor Center at 7:00 a.m., the only sounds were the waking birds and the rustling of treetops in the breeze; the nearby campgrounds were still quiet.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

This was the perfect time for me to quietly enjoy the Redwood Loop Nature Trail, a fully-accessible trail.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Redwood Loop Nature Trail

“This trail passes by some of the biggest, most interesting, and most significant coast redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains. it is six-tenths of a mile in length and generally takes about an hour to complete if you proceed at a leisurely pace.”  Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

After paying for a trail guide – a 25-cent donation, and money very well spent – I turned on my camera, silenced my cell phone, and thoroughly enjoyed my walk.

I hope you will enjoy this “virtual walk” with me  …

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Father of the Forest, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Father of the Forest, estimated to be 2,000 years old. Circumference at Ground: 66 feet, 9 inches. Height 250 feet.

“… this particular tree was a popular subject for photographers who wanted to show the size and beauty of these trees. In 1902, public interest in coastal redwoods led to the establishment of California Redwood Park, which is now known as Big Basin Redwoods State Park – the oldest unit in the California State Park System.”

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Wooden bench at the edge of the trail, where visitors can sit and ponder this magnificent redwood, the Father of the Forest.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Mother of the Forest

Nearby Mother of the Forest, which was once the tallest tree in Big Basin, at 329 feet. However, the top broke off in a storm, reducing its height to 293 feet.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

“In its continual quest for light, the redwood adapts to this loss by growing  new trunk upwards from an existing branch. The Mother of the Forest has two new trunks growing, and may someday be the tallest tree again.”

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Mother of the Forest

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

Burled roots and grooved textures; burned centers and new growth in abundance.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, Redwood Loop Nature Trail, Northern California, wheelchair accessible, redwood forest, Images by RJM

If I had been able to stay longer, I would have enjoyed exploring the other accessible trail, four-mile long Skyline to the Sea Trail. That’s a good incentive to return!

Wheelchair Accessibility

The Redwood Loop Nature Trail is level and wide, and the surface is hard-packed ground. A manual wheelchair, whether self-propelled or pushed by a companion, could easily navigate the trail.

Credits

Quoted material is from the website (first paragraph of this post), or from the trail guide (all other quotes).

All photos ©2016 ImagesByRJM