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.
Discover Big Basin Redwoods
Sunday, January 22 at 12 pm
Saturday, January 28 at 12 pm
Sunday, January 29 at 12 pm
Saturday, February 4 at 12 pm
Sunday, February 5 at 12 pm
Saturday, February 11 at 12 pm
Sunday, February 26 at 12 pm
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.
Sunday, January 22 from 12 to 3 pm
Saturday, February 25 from 12 to 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
Sunday, January 22 at 1 pm - Tom R.
Saturday, January 28 at 1 pm - Ashley
Sunday, January 29 at 1 pm - Nan
Saturday, February 4 at 1 pm - Mike W.
Sunday, February 5 at 1 pm - Ron
Saturday, February 11 at 1 pm - Ashley
Sunday, February 12 at 1 pm - Barry
Saturday, February 18 at 1 pm - Norm
Sunday, February 19 at 1 pm - Barry
Saturday, February 25 at 1 pm - Barry
Sunday, February 26 at 1 pm - Ron
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.
Tuesday, January 24 at 9 am
Tuesday, January 31 at 9 am
Tuesday, February 7 at 9 am
Tuesday, February 14 at 9 am
Tuesday, February 21 at 9 am
Tuesday, February 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.
Coffee Talk and Crafts
Sunday, January 28 from 9:30–12:30 - Norm
Saturday, February 18 from 9:30–12:30 - Norm
Saturday, February 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 baristas Norm Beeson, Tom Rohlf, Kathy Willott and Glenn Joy 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.
Observing Big Basin An Interpretive Hike
Saturday, January 28 at 9:30 am
Saturday, February 11 at 9:30 am
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. 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.
Nature’s Reading Room
Saturday, January 28 from 1–3 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 circle of redwoods next to the Nature Lodge and camp store.
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."
Meteor Trail Hike Ocean View Summit Loop
Sunday, January 29 at 10 am
Sunday, February 26 at 10 am
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.
A Walk in the Past
Saturday, February 4 at 10 am
How did the Ohlone Indians flourish for thousands of years and who led to their destruction? Take a walk with Docent 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 4 mile, 2.5 hour walk along on the Skyline to the Sea Trail, along Opal Creek to the site of the former homestead of Alice and Tom Maddock. Meet Eva at Park Headquarters.
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
Volunteer with the Trail Crew
Saturday, February 11 at 9 am
Saturday, March 11 at 9 am
Saturday, April 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 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.
The Road Less Traveled Dog-Friendly Walk
Saturday, February 11 at 11 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, February 12 at 9 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, February 12 at 11 am
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.
On this easy, 2-hour walk with docent Eva Fewel you’ll learn about the courtship behaviors of some of the park’s most fascinating plants and animals. Discover amorousness among banana slugs, torrid acorn woodpeckers, passionate newts, a long distance relationship between chipmunks and a mother's love among mule deer in this celebration of love in the wild! Bring at least one liter of champagne, heart shaped chocolates, flowers, and appropriate clothing. Meet Eva at Park Headquarters.
Winter Wildflower Walk
Saturday, February 18 at 10 am
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.
Hike to Buzzard’s Roost
Saturday, February 18 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.
Questions about Big Basin or becoming a Docent contact: Susan Blake State Park Interpreter (831) 338‒8883