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.
Observing Big Basin An Interpretive Hike
Saturday, February 25 at 9:30 am
Learn about old-growth redwoods and their environment on this informative hike. Depending on the group, we’ll hike from 3–6 miles, taking time to talk about redwoods, forest plants, park history and the habitats around you. Certified California Naturalists Kathy Willott and Glenn Joy co-lead this hike. Bring water and a snack. Dress in layers and wear good hiking shoes. Heavy rain cancels. Meet Glenn and Kathy at Park Headquarters.
Coffee Talk and Crafts
Saturday, February 25 from 9:30–12:30 - Norm
Saturday, March 18 from 9:30–12:30 - Norm
Saturday, March 25 from 9:30–12:30 - Norm
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 Beeson 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.
Saturday, February 25 from 12–3 pm
Saturday, March 25 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.
Redwood Loop Walk
Saturday, February 25 at 1 pm - Barry
Sunday, February 26 at 1 pm - Ron
Saturday, March 4 at 11 am and 2 pm - Norm
Sunday, March 5 at 11 am and 2 pm - Barry
Saturday, March 11 at 11 am and 2 pm - Barry
Sunday, March 12 at 11 am and 2 pm - Kathy E.
Saturday, March 18 at 11 am and 2 pm - Mike W.
Sunday, March 19 at 11 am and 2 pm - Michael S.
Saturday, March 25 at 11 am and 2 pm - Hal
Sunday, March 26 at 11 am and 2 pm - Nan
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.
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.
Sunday, February 26 at 11 am
Big Basin is home to many different species of fungi. A mushroom is the spore producing fruiting body of fungus. Some look like our traditional pizza mushrooms, but others are wildly colored, strangely shaped, very small, smelly or slimy. Come join Big Basin’s Head Ranger Emily Bertram as she forays for mushrooms amid the fairy rings. Learn of the important role they play in the redwood forest, the carbon cycle, who eats them and how to identify them.
This is a family friendly, easy 1.5-hour walk. We’ll just be looking and touching but not picking because mushrooms are a favorite food of banana slugs and if you suddenly need a liver transplant it creates a lot of paperwork for Emily in addition to ruining your whole day. Meet Emily at Park Headquarters before venturing into the Mystic Realm of the shroom.
The pace is moderate with an occasional short stop to view and discuss the park’s unique animals, plants and other features. Wear sturdy walking shoes, bring water and trail snacks. Meet Barry at Park Headquarters.
Tuesday Nature Hikes
Tuesday, February 28 at 9 am
Tuesday, March 7 at 9 am
Tuesday, March 14 at 9 am
Tuesday, March 21 at 9 am
Tuesday, March 28 at 9 am
Docents Diane Shaw, Paul and Eva Fewel lead 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. The group meets at Park Headquarters.
A Walk in the Past
Saturday, March 4 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
Outlook from Mt. McAbee
Saturday, March 4 at 1 pm
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, March 11 at 9 am
Saturday, April 8 at 9 am
Saturday, May 13 at 9 am
Saturday, June 10 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 leader Norm Beeson 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 in the parking area in front of the bathrooms adjoining Park Headquarters.
Hike to Buzzard’s Roost
Saturday, March 11 at 10 am
Use your hiking muscles on this challenging 5-mile, 1,200′ elevation gain, 4-hour round trip on the Pine Mountain Trail to Buzzard’s Roost. Join survival instructor, mountaineer and certified California Naturalist Steve Stolper for a hike to the dramatic rock formation of Buzzard’s Roost. Beginning in the redwoods along Opal Creek this hike ascends the side of the East Waddell Creek Watershed into the knobcone pines at the ridge with Scott Creek Watershed giving you a commanding view of Big Basin and the buzzards circling overhead.
After a relaxed lunch on the rocks, we take a few pictures with the roost as our backdrop and return to headquarters. Bring at least one liter of water, relaxed lunch, snacks, sunscreen and appropriate clothing. Rain cancels as portions of the trail have rocky ascents which become slippery. Meet Steve at the Park Headquarters building next to the flag pole.
The Road Less Traveled Dog-Friendly Walk
Saturday, March 11 at 10:30 am
On this dog-friendly walk, we travel on North Escape Road, a paved road the second half of which is closed to motor traffic. Laurie Bergren and her dog Musa guide you on a tour through stunning old-growth redwood groves along beautiful Opal Creek paralleling the Skyline to the Sea Trail. We’ll discuss redwood ecology and park history while exploring the deep shade of the redwood forest.
This is a fun, easy, three-mile, two-hour roundtrip walk to the Sempervirens’ informational kiosk. You and your dog can continue to explore along the road if you wish or turn around at any point. You are not required to have a dog on this walk, but they are welcome. Bring water for both you and your dog, a doo bag and meet Laurie and Musa at Park Headquarters.
Berry Creek Falls Hike
Sunday, March 12 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.
Fall rains bring a whole new flowering season upon us! Join California Naturalist, docent, Kathy Willott and learn to identify many of Big Basin’s species of native mosses, lichens, fungi, wildflowers and plants. Discuss the diverse terrain, natural ecosystems and human impact on this four mile, three hour walk. Bring warm clothing, water and lunch. Meet Kathy at Park Headquarters.
Join California Naturalist Hal Anjo as he guides you along the Shadowbrook Trail loop. Up the Sequoia Trail to the Bob Kirsch Bridge. Crossing Sempervirens Creek you are now on the Shadowbrook Trail, a great place to view banana slugs and mushrooms. Proceeding north you reach the junction with the south Huckleberry Campground connector. Union Creek will now be on your left but you’ll cross it three times before reaching the Flea Potrero (AKA Employee Housing). A short downhill stretch and you’ll join the Sequoia Trail and arrive at Slippery Rock for lunch.
After lunch, and just across the road is Sempervirens Falls then it’s back through the redwoods along the Sequoia Trail passing through the former Campfire Girls Camp Wastahi (Water-Stars-Hills). This is a five-mile, 350′ elevation gain, four-hour hike. Bring water, snacks, lunch and good hiking shoes. Meet Hal at Park Headquarters.
Story Time Walk
Saturday, March 18 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, March 18 from 1:30–3:30 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 campfire center across Highway 236 from Park Headquarters.
What’s that Bird?
Sunday, March 19 at 9:30 am
This easy, one-mile stroll with Docent Karen DeMello 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 Karen at Park Headquarters.
Family Discovery Walk
Saturday, March 25 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.
The Road Less Traveled Dog-Friendly Walk
Sunday, March 26 at 10 am
Travel on North Escape Road, a paved road the second half of which is closed to motor traffic as Diane Shaw guides you on a tour through stunning old-growth redwood groves along beautiful Opal Creek to the informational kiosk and picnic area. We’ll discuss redwood ecology and park history while exploring the deep shade of the redwood forest.
This is a fun, easy, three-mile, two-hour roundtrip walk. You and your dog can continue to explore along the road if you wish or turn around at any point. You are not required to have a dog on this walk, but they are welcome. Bring water for both you and your dog, a doo bag and meet Diane at Park Headquarters.
Celebrate Mother’s Day in the park by honoring the spirited women who lived in, worked in and fought for the Basin throughout its history. Living history reenactments bring you back in time where you will meet pioneer homemaker Alice Maddock, Savior of the Redwoods Josephine Clifford McCrackin, the journalist Carrie Stevens Walter and Louise Coffin Jones founding Sempervirens Club Vice Presidents and Petey Weaver, the first female Ranger.
Stroll through the lofty redwoods, stop by the Mother of the Forest and imagine what she has to convey, on this half-mile, one-hour guided walk with Park Interpreter Susan Blake. This walk is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Meet Susan at Park Headquarters.
Fathers’s Day Walk Men of Big Basin
Sunday, June 18 at 1 pm
Celebrate Father’s Day and the first day of summer by honoring some of the remarkable men who lived in, worked in and fought in and for Big Basin. Living history reenactments bring you back in time where you’ll meet pioneer settlers, Big Basin founders and early park rangers.
We’ve all asked ourselves the burning question “Who is Sam H. Rambo and is he related to John?” This is your once a year chance to stroll through the magnificent redwoods alongside the Father of the Forest on this half-mile, one-hour guided walk and find out the answer to one of life’s fundamental questions. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters.
4th of July Weekend Celebration Talent Show
Saturday, July 1 at 7 pm
Come and celebrate Independence Day with a campfire, sing-a-long and on the main stage, the world renown Big Basin’s Got Talent show! If you have a skit, poem, song or a talent you’d like to share, sign up at headquarters in advance. All presentations should be appropriate for all ages. Acts should be 3–5 minutes in length.
Actresses, actors, divas and Hollywood talent scouts need to arrive promptly at 7 pm. Campfire lighting and marshmallow roasting (we provide the sticks and marshmallows) begins at 7 pm; theatrical program begins at 7:30 pm in the main amphitheater across Highway 236 from Park Headquarters.
Tales of the Basin A Storytelling Event
Fryday, July 28 at 7 pm
The oral storytelling tradition comes to life with the ancient redwood forest as a backdrop. An evening campfire program on Friday and events throughout Saturday. Saturdays events include Junior Rangers at 3:00 pm, a one-hour program is designed for kids ages 7–12, register at 2:45. Big Basin “Nature Tails” storytelling program at 4:30 pm, animal stories presented for children of all ages and their families.
Storyteller Showcase at the historic Campfire Center beginning at 7:00 pm. Sit back and experience an old-fashioned evening steeped in oral tradition as our guest storytellers weave their yarns. Come early marshmallow roasting at 6:30. Presented in collaboration with:
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 115+ 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 21 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