Redwood Trail - Interpretive Loop, Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Redwood Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Redwood Trail - Interpretive Loop - 0.6 miles

Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Redwood Trailhead

Some Redwoods in Big Basin are over 2,000 years old

Some Redwoods in Big Basin are over 2,000 years old

Round-Trip Length: 0.6 miles
Start-End Elevation: 1,010' - 1,010 ' (1,040' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +30' net elevation gain (+45' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Redwood Trail - Interpretive Loop - 0.6 Miles Round-Trip

The handicap-accessible Redwood Trail is a must-do trail for anyone visiting Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This short interpretive loop features the Park's tallest redwood (Mother of the Forest) and eleven points of interest covering Big Basin's history, ecology, and biology.

Interpretive brochures are available at the beginning of the trail and are highly recommended. If no brochures are left in the self-serve box, you may request one at Park Headquarters:

The Redwood Trail follows the level banks of Opal Creek, aptly named for its dark color. This cloudy opalescence is caused by a high concentration of suspended minerals and decaying plant material, which support luxuriant corridors of Sword Fern, Woodwardia Fern, Huckleberry and Western azalea.

Across Opal Creek is the Santa Clara Tree, the Park's largest in diameter when measured at breast height.

Interpretive sings mark Redwood Burls, Depression Circles, Douglas Fir trees, Madrone trees, and Father of the Forest which is located next to Mother of the Forest.

Mother of the Forest is Big Basin's tallest redwood at 329', with a 70' circumference at ground level. Father of the Forest is thought to be over 2000 years old and was a popular subject for photographers in the late 1800s - early 1900s. These photos created interest in Big Basin, which led to its state park designation in 1902.

History of Redwoods
150 million years ago Redwood and Redwood-like trees covered most of the Northern Hemisphere. Climate change thinned out these forests and today only two redwood species remain in California: the Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia. Coast Redwoods are the tallest living organisms on earth and can live 2,000 years.

Redwoods grow best in moderate temperatures and need significant moisture to thrive. The Redwoods' success along the California coast is due in part to year-round fog, which condenses on the trees' needles, drips to the ground and provides moisture, even during the dry season.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park - largely untouched because of its relative inaccessibility at the onset of development in the 1800s - is a remnant of old growth redwood forests that once blanketed Northern California coastal valleys.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N37 10.320 W122 13.357 — 0.00 Miles: Redwood Trailhead - Park HQ
  • N37 10.307 W122 13.393 — 0.10 miles: Skyline to Sea Trail intersection

Worth Noting

  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California's Oldest State Park - Established in 1902.

  • The park consists of over 18,000 acres of old growth and recovering redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats.

  • Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet.

  • The Redwood Trail is handicap accessible.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Weather

  • Winter: Cold, overcast and rainy. Big Basin receives the majority of its average 48 inches of rain. December through March average temperatures range from highs in the 50's to lows in the 20's.

  • Spring: Cool with showers and morning and evening fog. Average daytime highs in the 60's, lows in the 30's to 40's.

  • Summer: Warm with cool nights. Morning fog in early Summer. Average highs 75 to 95, lows 40's to 50's.

  • Fall: Warm day to cold nights. Occasional early storms with rain. Average highs 75 to 60's, lows 50's to 30. Maybe the best weather of the year.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • To reserve developed campsites, call Reserve America at 800.444.PARK (7275) or visit the Reserve America Web site. The Reserve America site features campsite maps showing the location of each site in relation to parking, restrooms, and other facilities.

  • $35 per night for developed campsites.

  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park features Tent Cabin camping. These charming one-room cabins are managed by a private concession. To make Tent Cabin reservations, call 800-874-TENT (8368).

  • Backcountry camping is available May 1 - October 31. Call 831.338.8861 for backcountry camping details and reservations.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is not permitted in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $10 fee to enter Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

  • The park is open every day year round from 6am - 10pm. Office hours are 9am - 5pm Sunday through Thursday, and 8am - 8pm Friday and Saturday.

  • Dogs are welcome but must be leashed at all times. They're allowed in picnic areas, campground areas and on paved roads only. Dogs are not allowed anywhere at Rancho del Oso or on any other trails or interior roads. They must be kept in a tent or car with appropriate ventilation at night.

  • Swimming is not permitted in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Directions to Trailhead

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located about 65 miles south of San Francisco, 25 miles from San Jose, and 21 miles from Saratoga.

From San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Saratoga

Take either the 101 or 280 Highway south to the 85 freeway south. Exit 85 at Saratoga Road. Turn right and head west on Saratoga Road to a traffic signal and Highway 9. Turn right on Highway 9 through the town of Saratoga and into the mountains. Stay on Highway 9 for 12 miles to Highway 236. Turn right onto Highway 236 for 9 miles to Park Headquarters.

From Oakland, Fremont and San Jose

Take the 880 freeway south, which becomes Highway 17. As you head towards Santa Cruz and come down from the summit, you will see a sign on the freeway for Big Basin. The actual road name is Mount Hermon Road. Exit the freeway here and stay right onto Mount Hermon Road. Stay on this road through the city of Scotts Valley. Mount Hermon Road ends at an intersection with a signal (Graham Hill Rd.). Turn right at this light. You'll immediately come to another lighted intersection for Highway 9. Turn right on Highway 9 for 15 miles. You'll be traveling through several mountain towns to the town of Boulder Creek. In Boulder Creek there is one stop sign. Turn left onto Highway 236/Big Basin Way for 9 miles to Park Headquarters.

From California Highway 1, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay

Take Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. Take Highway 9 north for 15 miles. You will pass through several mountain towns to Boulder Creek. In Boulder Creek there is one stop sign. At this sign turn left onto Highway 236/Big Basin Way. Stay on this road for 9 miles to Park Headquarters.

Contact Information

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, California, U.S.A.
Phone: 831.338.8860

Trip Reports

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