The Big Basin activities calendar is comprised primarily of hikes led by Big Basin Redwoods State Park volunteer docents on the popular park trails. All docents undergo training in plant communities, animals, cultural and historically significant park events. Hiking with a docent as your guide gives you ready access to knowledge of the local environment.
Redwood Loop Walk
Friday, August 24 at 11 am and 2 pm - Hal
Saturday, August 25 at 11 am and 2 pm - Norm
Sunday, August 26 at 11 am and 2 pm - Michael S.
Friday, August 31 at 11 am and 2 pm - Hal
Saturday, September 1 at 11 am and 2 pm - Kathy/Glenn
Sunday, September 2 at 11 am and 2 pm - Barry
Monday, September 3 at 11 am and 2 pm - Norm
Saturday, September 8 at 11 am and 2 pm - Ron
Sunday, September 9 at 11 am and 2 pm - Norm
Saturday, September 15 at 11 am and 2 pm - Ron
Sunday, September 16 at 11 am and 2 pm - Kathy E.
Saturday, September 22 at 11 am and 2 pm - Norm
Sunday, September 23 at 11 am and 2 pm - Barry
Saturday, September 29 at 11 am and 2 pm - Kathy/Glenn
Sunday, September 30 at 11 am and 2 pm - Barry
Sequoia sempervirens also known as Coast redwoods or California redwoods are the tallest trees on earth. Once the dominate tree of the northern hemisphere, their linage running back 200 million years to the time of the dinosaurs. Restricted to the California coast by the last ice age 20 million years ago, extensive logging beginning around 1850 cut down 95% of this primal forest. Join us for this fun and informative guided stroll on the Redwood Trail as it passes along Opal Creek and through an old-growth redwood forest.
Twilight is the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon. Adventure is an exploration into the unknown. Put these together and venture into the evening with State Park Interpreter Susan Blake on a walk for the whole family and experience the adventure of the forest during the transition from day to night.
This easy, one-mile stroll will introduce you to the birds of the redwood forest. Beginner birders are welcomed! You’ll meet remarkable birds of the redwood forest along the way on this one mile walk. Binoculars are recommended but not required. Meet at Park Headquarters.
Seek and Find Smartphone Quest
Monday, August 27 at 11:30 am
Bring your smartphone and kids ages 5 and up for a 1-hour adventure walk. We’ll use a free app called Seek to identify plants and animals here, and you can continue the adventure at home! Meet your Interpreter at Park Headquarters.
Special Guest Campfire Program Nature's Supermarket
Thursday, August 23 at 7 pm
How would a Quiroste Ohlone mother make dinner Big Basin 500 years ago? No microwave, no Zojirushi rice cooker with fuzzy logic, not even an induction cook top. Lucky for the Ohlone moms these necessities weren't necessary. Join Ranger Alex Takone as he takes a look at Nature's Supermarket and makes dinner the way it was done by the native Ohlone people 500 years ago.
Following a song to the Tanoak Tree, an offering of a broad-leaved herb to the fire, you get to taste Ranger Takone's creation. Meet Alex at the Campfire Center across Highway 236 from Park Headquarters and leave the problems of the world behind for an hour.
Saturday, September 1 at 3 pm
Sunday, September 2 at 3 pm
Monday, September 3 at 11 am
Discover the fascinating secrets of the forest with Park Interpreter Susan Blake. Explore, practice outdoor skills and play games as you learn about plants, animals, geology, and more. This one-hour program is for kids ages 7–12. Sorry parents, this program is for kids only! Please register your child at the Nature Lodge, next to the camp store, 15 minutes before the program begins. Please be sure your child is dressed for active play in the outdoors.
Big Basin Nature Club
Saturday, September 1 at 4:30 pm
Sunday, September 2 at 4:30 pm
Monday, September 3 at 10 am
This fun program is for children ages 3–6 and their families. Pretend, play, story telling, sing and explore. This half-hour program will introduce youngsters to the wonders of the redwood forest and the animals that call it their home. Meet Park Interpreter Susan Blake at the Nature Lodge next to the camp store.
Special Junior Rangers
Wednesday, August 22 at 10 am
This two hour special Junior Rangers is for kids ages 7–12 only. We’ll be taking a hike, so make sure your Junior Ranger dresses appropriately, with closed-toe shoes. Please register your child 15 minutes before the program with Interpreter Susan Blake at the Nature Lodge.
Afternoon Campfire Program
Wednesday, August 22 at 3:30 pm
Enjoy roastingRanger Apples and marshmallows along with music and crafts at an early afternoon campfire program with Park Interpreter Susan Blake. Touch the skulls and pelts of Big Basin animals and a live snake. What can you tell about the lives of the animals from their bones, skulls and pelts? This is a rare opportunity, you would normally only see a lion pelt displayed in a glass case. Seldom would a curator allow you to pet a lion pelt.
Drop by anytime between 3:30 to 5:00 pm at the historic Campfire Center. It’s best to arrive early if you plan to roast apples. The picture to the left is of a stripped skunk skull on a rabbit pelt. Courtesy of the Wednesday and Pugsley Addams nature collection.
Friday, August 24 at 7 pm
Friday, August 31 at 7 pm
Bring your camp chair. We’ll bring the marshmallows, songs and stories. Sit around the campfire, roast marshmallows, sing some songs and hear stories about Big Basin. If possible, please walk to the campfire, as parking is limited to disabled parking. Meet at the Huckleberry Campground camp site 73.
Discover Big Basin Hike
Saturday, August 25 at 12 pm
Sunday, August 26 at 12 pm
Saturday, September 1 at 12 pm
Monday, September 3 at 12 pm
Saturday, September 8 at 12 pm
Sunday, September 9 at 12 pm
Saturday, September 15 at 12 pm
Sunday, September 16 at 12 pm
Saturday, September 22 at 12 pm
Explore the park’s most scenic wilderness back-country with docent naturalist Barry Grimm. The route, mileage and elevation gain will be chosen based on the participant’s experience level, weather and trail conditions. The pace will be moderate - with short stops to learn about the redwood forest’s plants, animals and native peoples.
Bring water and shoes that are suitable for primitive foot trails. Meets at the park headquarters flag pole. Rain does not cancel this hike.
Exploring Big Basin
Tuesday, August 21 at 9 am
Tuesday, August 28 at 9 am
Tuesday, September 4 at 9 am
Tuesday, September 11 at 9 am
Tuesday, September 18 at 9 am
Tuesday, September 25 at 9 am
Tuesday, October 2 at 9 am
Docent Diane Shaw leads these serendipitous, varied mid-week hikes. Learn about the animals, plants, talking trees, history and geology of Big Basin and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hikes are 5–8 miles and last up to 5 hours but you can wonder off and explore on your own at any time. We go rain or shine, rain brings out the sparkle in suspended water droplets, many small streams and creeks, tiny mushrooms, banana slugs and salamanders. To avoid being squished, strong winds cancel the hike. Mornings can be cool and the afternoons warm, so dress in layers. Meet Diane at Park Headquarters.
Saturday, September 1 at 7 pm
Sunday, September 2 at 7 pm
Join Big Basin Interpreter Rhiannon or Susan at the historic campfire center for an evening of song and story. Serenade the glittering stars and learn about redwood ecology, creatures of the forest and listen to stories of the park while relaxing as twilight envelops the towering trees.
Fire lighting and marshmallow roasting (we provide the marshmallows and sticks) starts at 7:00 pm and the program begins at 7:30 pm. The campfire amphitheater is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Good dogs on a leash are always welcome. Bring insect repellent and meet at the Campfire Center across Highway 236 from Park Headquarters.
Volunteer with the Trail Crew
Saturday, September 8 at 9 am
Saturday, October 13 at 9 am
Saturday, November 10 at 9 am
Saturday, December 8 at 9 am
Big Basin Volunteer Trail Crew makes it possible for others to safely enjoy the beauty of our park by clearing fallen trees and making other repairs to the trails. Join crew leaders Norm Beeson, Mike Peasland and a dedicated group of volunteers for a unique perspective of Big Basin, in a lively and productive experience with others who share a love of these redwood forests.
A typical workday lasts until mid-afternoon, rain or shine. The tasks are diverse and the locations are sometimes far flung. Please bring your own work gloves, lunch, snacks and water, tools will be provided. Planning for the day takes place at nine, this is the time to have all your questions answered. Children are welcome, but must have a responsible adult or parent attending them at all times. Meet Mike and Norm in the parking area in front of the bathrooms adjoining Park Headquarters.
Berry Creek Falls Hike
Sunday, September 9 at 9:30 am
Join Docent Bill Rhoades as he guides you on this seven-hour signature hike. Travel along the famed Skyline to the Sea Trail through shady redwood canyons and climb dry ridges as you experience a wide range of habitats on this strenuous 11 mile hike to 65′ Berry Creek Falls. Berry Creek was named after lumberman Tilford Berry who had a cabin near the base of the falls. He vanished only to reappear thirty years later the victim of sudden onset intercrainal lead poisoning and then vanished again, never to reappear.
Sunday, September 1 from 9–12 - Kathy/Glenn
Sunday, September 2 from 10–12:30 - Norm
Sunday, September 16 from 9:30–12:30 - Tom R.
Sunday, September 30 from 9:30–12:30 - Micki
Come to the Sempervirens Room in the Park Headquarters building for complimentary morning cup of camp coffee or hot chocolate around the stone fireplace in the park’s historic visitor center. This is a great way to start your day in Big Basin. Big Basin docent barista Norm or Micki will be happy to answer your questions about the park and help get you going on the right trail.
There’s a fun craft activity for the kids, nature and historical displays, information desk with handouts, a raised relief map of Big Basin showing trails and a multimedia kiosk that displays trail information, events calendar and park photography.
From Ocean View Summit the abandoned fire lookout at Eagle Rock, Buzzard’s Roost, Mt. McAbee, Whitehouse Canyon Road and Chalk Mountain are visible while we enjoy lunch. Completing this loop, it’s downhill back to park headquarters on Dool Trail or Gazos Creek Road. Bring water, lunch, sun protection and good hiking shoes. Meet Peggy at Park Headquarters.
Outlook from Mt. McAbee
Saturday, August 25 at 10:30 am
Join docent Hal Anjo on a hike to McAbee Outlook also known as the Wheat Overlook. We’ll follow the Howard King Trail gaining 750 feet in elevation in three miles, learning about the different habitats as the environment changes as we climb. At the top we stop to enjoy the ocean view down through the East Waddell Creek Valley and have a quick lunch before returning through a beautiful old-growth redwood forest along Hihn Hammond Road. The hike is six miles and about three and a half hours. Bring plenty of water, lunch, snacks and good hiking shoes. Meet Hal at Park Headquarters.
Saturday, August 25 from 12–3 pm
Saturday, September 22 from 12–3 pm
Come to the Sempervirens Room, meet herpetologist Diane Shaw and learn about the fascinating world of snakes. Stop by anytime between noon and 3 pm to meet the snakes and talk to Diane. She’ll let you know why are snakes important, how they see, smell, taste and hear. You can find out for yourself what a snake feels like and learn how they can be useful if you’re troubled by small ocelots and you happen to live in Bolivia. Otherwise, don’t get one. Meet Diane at Park Headquarters.
A Walk in the Past
Saturday, September 1 at 10 am
How did the Ohlone Indians flourish for thousands of years and who led to their destruction? Take a walk with certified California Naturalist Eva Fewel and learn about some of the plants and animals the Ohlone used for food. How they made tool of stones, bones, shells and how they were used. Learn of their illnesses and medical treatments on this 2.5 hour, 3.5 mile round trip, 130 feet elevation gain walk. Travel the Sequoia Trail to the ancient Ohlone bedrock mortars, Sempervirens Falls and Slippery Rock. Learn about traditional acorn processing techniques and try these techniques yourself. Meet Eva at Park Headquarters.
A brief introduction on Ohlone culture can be found at:
Logging was the major industry in the Santa Cruz Mountains for over 50 years. What tools did lumbermen cut down these tall trees and what was life like in a logging camp? Join Docent lumberjack Paul Fewel as he tells tall tales of the logging days and demonstrates how loggers were able to fell these giants without chainsaws. Meet Paul at the Old Lodge just off Skid Row.
“Fire, however, is not the worst enemy of the redwood; a greater enemy, and more dangerous, is the greed, the rapacity, the vandalism that would hack and cut and mutilate the grandest, the most magnificent forest that can be found on the face of the globe, the Redwood Forest of the Big Basin.”
—Josephine McCrackin The Overland Monthly 1900
Story Time Walk
Saturday, September 1 from 1–1:30 pm
Bring the whole family and join docent Norm Beeson for a walking story time. Starting at Park Headquarters, walk through ancient redwoods while reading a story about an animal, forest, bird or insect. We’ll stop and read one page, walk a bit then read the next page until we finish the story. We’ll end up at the historic campfire circle and gather for Nature’s Reading Room, where you can choose from a wide variety of books about trees, animals, birds, bugs and more for the whole family to read together. Meet Norm at Park Headquarters.
Nature’s Reading Room
Saturday, September 1 from 1:30–3:00 pm
Come sit in the circle of ancient redwoods, nature’s reading room, and choose a book or two to read with your family. Drop by anytime between one and three in the afternoon and literary critic and docent Norm Beeson will help you find the perfect book for your family to enjoy. With a little cajoling he’ll even read it to you. Nature’s Reading Room is a favorite playground for chipmunks and is located in the Sempervirens Room at Park Headquarters.
Family Discovery Walk
Sunday, September 2 at 1 pm
Is that an Black-tail fawn or a Mule deer fawn and how do you tell the difference? That’s one of the many questions naturalist Norm Beeson will answer if you ask him on this fun-filled family walk. Investigate the mysteries, marvels and miracles of Big Basin’s phenomena as you walk through the redwood forest. Unearth hidden gems and realizations on this level, one-mile roundtrip walk that lasts 1.5 hours. Bring water, a snack and meet Norm at Park Headquarters.
Can You Survive Psychology, Equipment and Shelter
Saturday, September 8 at 10 am
If you hike, camp or live in a cave, then you should have a working knowledge of modern wilderness survival. Join certified California Naturalist Steve Stolper for a hands-on, five hour workshop to learn modern wilderness survival techniques. These skills help you survive a short-term (1–3 days) survival situation. Steve covers the psychology of survival, risk assessment, the “Rule of 3”, equipment and shelter. Please dress as you would for a day-hike. Wear clothes that can get dirty. Bring at least one liter of water, lunch, insect repellent and snacks. Rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters. Can You Survive (Fire, Signaling and Water Purification) will be held on Saturday, September 15 from 10–3.
Saturday, September 15 at 9:30 am - Kathy and Glenn
There are many less-famous yet still beautiful plants in the redwood forest. Join this 4-mile, 3-4-hour hike and meet some hidden gems of Big Basin. Bring water and a snack. Dress in layers and wear good hiking shoes. Heavy rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters.
Can You Survive Fire, Signaling and Water Purification
Saturday, September 15 at 10 am
If you bike, camp or rely on the Big Basin Trail Map, then you should have a working knowledge of modern wilderness survival. Join certified California Naturalist Steve Stolper for a hands-on, five hour workshop to learn modern wilderness survival techniques. These skills help you survive a short-term (1–3 days) survival situation. In this class Steve covers the fire, signaling and water purification. Please dress as you would for a day-hike. Wear clothes that can get dirty. Bring at least one liter of water, lunch, insect repellent and snacks. Rain cancels. Meet at Park Headquarters.
Big Basin Founders’ Day Redwood Jubilee
Saturday, September 29 at 9 am
Celebrate the wild heritage of Big Basin Redwoods State Park with a day of special events. A melodrama with the forest as our theater, a timeline tree, games for kids and a special evening campfire program as we honor the Visionaries, Valued Workers and Visitors that have shaped the character of the Big Basin over the past 116+ years.
Exhilarate in the beauty of the majestic old growth forest that inspired men and women to Save the Redwoods. There will be events throughout the day with the schedule posted in front of the Sempervirens’ Room at Park Headquarters.
The Missing Arm of William Waddell
Saturday, October 20 at 6:30 pm
History plays out along the Redwood Trail as the true tale of the missing arm of William Waddell unfolds. Enjoy the redwoods on a fall night with music, storytelling and roasted apples with sugar and cinnamon, known in Big Basin as Ranger Apples, around the campfire. Ever loose something while hiking or camping in Big Basin. Find out the real story and who’s had a hand in it’s disappearance in this, fair and balanced, completely nutty, slightly haunting tour around the redwood loop trail. Registration opens at 6:30 pm with CSI fact finding beginning at 7:00 pm.
Please register at Park Headquarters to receive your departure time and as an aid to search and rescue. Small groups depart every 15 minutes into the cryptic primeval forest accompanied by two highly trained and experienced wilderness guides. Once you cross over to the other side of the spooky “Redwood Trail” sign post you’ll be entering the land of the paranormal, of Fairy Rings, the headless Iron Ranger, and the side of the Redwood Loop where the frightening truth will be revealed. This is the home of the no longer missing Arm of William W. Waddell and the California Grizzly who took it.
Questions about Big Basin or becoming a Docent contact: Susan Blake State Park Interpreter (831) 338‒8883