On Monday following the July 4th holiday Dave and I chose to hike the Big Basin Redwoods State Park--part of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The park is only 34 miles from San Jose, but it took us nearly an hour to get there along winding mountain roads. The drive was beautiful, and the park with its magnificent Redwoods even more so. The entrance fee at Park Headquarters was $10 with an additional $5 for the trail map. Although we went for day use only, the park also has varied camping sites as well as small cabins for a longer stay.
Our minds were set on seeing the four cascading waterfalls, so we chose to hike the entire Berry Creek Falls Loop. We started our hike at 2:00 PM and moving at a steady pace, we covered 10.5 miles in 5.5 hours; arriving back at Park Headquarters at 7:30 PM.
Getting to the falls along Sunset Trail was not a steady uphill climb, but rather it wove in and around mountain hills, up and down small ravines, until reaching a high mountain meadow that descended into the falls.
Some of the highlights were towering redwoods. Did you know that Redwoods are the tallest living organism on the planet? And grow to be as old as 2000 years?
Fallen redwoods. We look mighty small in comparison.
Patches of clover
Not far beyond this mountain meadow and before reaching Golden Falls was a sign for trailside campsites (maybe next time)
It took us 3 hours to reach the pinnacle of our trip, starting with Golden Falls
Silver Falls (where we ate dinner)
and Berry Creek Falls with a 60' Drop
Just beyond Berry Creek Falls we passed a trail and sign for Waddell Beach. The return hike, along Skyline to the Sea Trail started out downhill. We descended to the bottom of a deep ravine and walked alongside Waddell Creek for several miles. When we were most fatigued we had to climb up out of the ravine before the final descent into camp.
I would have liked to have spent a little more time at the "top" enjoying the varied falls, but on a trail entirely new to us, we spent only a half hour at the top and then quickly made our way back because we were nervous about the setting sun. In the end I think our timing was perfect. The forest was shaded and starting to see long shadows, yet we made it back with blue skies while managing to miss large crowds.
The drive home along Highway 9, with the setting sun behind us, was also beautiful.