Big Basin Redwoods in the Winter
This park is near and dear to my heart. Every time I come here it feels like I’m coming home. You see, I grew up coming to this park. This was my families ‘go to’ place. We would drive up after school on Friday, set up camp and spend all weekend in the Redwoods. I have slidden down slippery rock, splashed in Sempervirens falls, climbed countless fallen redwood trees, gotten popsicles at the general store, told campfire stories, watched ‘the Lorax’ in the outdoor amphitheater and counted the stars here. This place is where so many of my childhood memories live. Now, it’s my turn to share this place with my husband and three kids. It is soul fulfilling to pass my love for the earth on to my kids through shared experiences.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park has a vast network of trails from easy to difficult, an hour long to miles and miles long. Something for everyone. With three kids in two we tend to stick to the easier medium length trails, we can do 4 miles really well. We didn’t quite do this in this adventure but we still had a great time.
As usual we had a late start in our day. We stopped to get hiking boots for the two older boys. It was and had been raining and tennis shoes just weren’t going to cut it, plus we have been upping our hiking game and thought they needed an upgrade. Afterward we grabbed some lunch and headed up into the hills. It takes some very curvy roads to get back into big basin, I also remember countless car sick trips back here as a kid. This time was no different. We had the air on blast, and taught the kids to look out the front window, follow the road with their eyes and breath deeply to avoid puking in the car. As we arrived the clouds parted and sun came streaming through the trees as if to announce “Congratulations you didn’t throw up, enjoy some fresh air and shake off that nausea!”.
We stopped by the Park headquarters to show our state park pass and get a day pass, if you don’t have a pass it’s a 10$ entrance fee. There are plentiful and nice bathrooms at the headquarters and a visitor center that is open on weekends only during the winter. We decided to do the sequoia trail, it starts right near the headquarters and goes about 4 miles round trip, past a water fall and a giant sandstone hillside known as slippery rock.
Some reviews of this trail mention it being lame because it’s next to the road. So let me clear that up for you. It does parallel a road, you are not on the same level as the road nor right next to it, only for brief moments. On a day with heavy traffic I could see the road being a distraction. But we hardly noticed the road at all. You are surrounded by redwoods and feel like you are in another world.
This trail is kid friendly especially when it has just rained. Our toddler thoroughly enjoyed stomping in the squishy mud and little puddles that had formed along the trail. Ok, we all had a good time stomping through the mud. We hiked at a slow pace, too much stomping, not enough walking. Plus, we would stop to check out every tree hallow and fern and mushroom. So when we realized we had made it about a mile and a half and still had about 2 1/2 to go and the sun was rapidly setting, we made the hard decision to turn back. We were bummed we didn’t get to see everything and do the full hike but, today is was all about the journey and really enjoying every aspect of the trail.
We are going to head back soon. As soon as the memory of that curvy road doesn’t induce instant nausea and I start remembering it as not that bad. But I am looking forward to the day I get to share this trail with my family.
We have been to big basin a few times as a family. There are a few other family friendly trails we love. The Redwood Trail is across the street from the headquarters and is a nice flat stroller, wheelchair accessible trail. Self guided tour pamphlets available at the store and headquarters too for 25 cents. A general store (which is not open in Dec and Jan) is located in the main parking area. It offers coffee, ice cream, other treats and things you might have forgotten at home. Next door to the store is a little museum, it is full of information on the surrounding nature and wildlife that call the park home. It is open 9am-5pm daily, even in the winter! Our kids love this museum, there are videos and hands on learning and tons of taxidermy critters. There are also, great picnic areas all through out the park so, bring a picnic and enjoy these gorgeous gorgeous redwoods.
Thanks for reading, for more information check out Big Basin’s web site. And as always remember to get up, get out and create and adventure.