Redwoods, Waterfalls, and Slugs.... Day Hiking at Big Basin State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park was one of the most recommended places we visit for a day trip near the Bay area. The park is about an hour from Palo Alto and a hidden gem in the midst of sprawling suburbia. We chose to hike the Berry Creek Loop Trail so that we could see most of the park as well as the three famous waterfalls along the creek. Over the 11 mile day hike, we saw towering redwoods, spring wildflowers, and flowing waterfalls. The trail was well traveled and at certain viewpoints it was pretty crowded, but it was well worth waiting your turn for a look.

Berry Creek Falls was the highlight of the hike. At 70 feet of near vertical height, the water was rushing with the spring melt. Golden Cascade Falls was another favorite, a series of small falls tumbling down golden colored rock.

We had been forewarned to be on the lookout for Banana Slugs, so I wasn’t surprised when we stumbled on a few near the creek. However I was surprised to learn that they are the mascot of the University of California at Santa Cruz! Their size was impressive, being almost as long as my foot! While eating lunch next to the creek, we saw the famed California newt, which looked more like a giant tadpole than a lizard. The return hike to the parking area took us along the ridge in the hot sunshine and out of the redwood forest. There the trail seemed more like desert than the damp forest below.