Saturday morning we woke up and decided we wanted to see waterfalls. Big Basin was only 1 hour 15 minutes away, but through such windy mountain roads that my son actually got sick. We paid $10 for the car and received trail advice from the ranger before setting off on the 4.5 mile loop that was the Sequoia Trail to the Skyline to the Sea Trail and then back to the parking lot. The ranger confirmed what I’d read online, that it is crucial to take a map on these trails since the signs can be confusing or missing.
From the parking lot to Sempervirens Falls is about 1.7 miles of gradually walking uphill. The path was muddy and we were parallel to a road for most of the time, but didn’t see any cars.
The falls themselves were roaring and clearly benefitted from all the rain we’ve had recently. There were some stairs down to a viewing platform and signs saying not to leave the platform since rehabilitation was going on.
From Sempervirens to Slippery Rock was only a short .1 mile hike and we got to see the sun at Slippery Rock since it was the only place on the hike not entire wooded. We sat in the sun and ate our picnic here, but we had to keep a close watch on the kids because the rock was named for a reason! We made the kids walk up the rock holding hands because we didn’t want to risk falling with them in the carriers. I had one minor wipeout, so I guess that was a good idea!
After Slippery Rock the 1.5 miles on the Sequoia trail was mostly flat or gently downhill through a fantastic, quiet, Sequoia forest. The trail was narrow with a steep drop off to one side, so the kids had to be in carriers or holding hands, but this was my favorite section of the trail. We saw one Sequoia that was so huge it dwarfed the other trees in diameter. The pictures really don’t capture this, but it was magnificent.
We also came across some wood where the bark had been stripped away and the bare wood had the most incredible red and green finish. The wood must have been sanded by the elements and it felt smooth as glass. Looking at the charred bark, I would guess the original bark was burned off leaving the wood exposed and allowing the wind and the rain to polish it. It was quite remarkable, but unfortunately someone had carved their name on it. I’m not sure what kind of person is motivated to go out into the woods and witness the wonders of nature and then still decides to carve their name on something like this. *end rant*
Once the Sequoia trail runs into the Skyline-to-the-Sea-Trail you have to turn left to get back to the ranger station. We turned right but fortunately Chris caught our mistake quickly and we were able to walk the 1.3 miles back to the ranger station.
This portion of the Skyline-to-the-Sea-Trail did not include any vistas but continued through the woods beside Opal Creek. The kids walked most of this section but there were a couple particularly muddy parts. Chris ended up falling in the mud with HJ in the carrier, but she wasn’t hurt at all and he just got really muddy. Neither of us were clean by the end of the hike!
Throughout the hike we passed several campgrounds with very nice spots. We’re definitely going to be camping here sometime soon and attempting the longer hike to Berry Creek Falls. I did notice that very few of the campsites seemed occupied, which makes me wonder whether people cancel their reservations on weekends when rain is expected.
Back at the parking lot they have a little museum with exhibits on the Redwoods, the weather in Big Basin, and the wildlife in the area. The kids were particularly impressed with the taxidermy owls and coyote. The museum is free with a donation box inside but no ranger monitoring the museum.
If you have a favorite trail in Big Basin, please leave it in the comments, I can’t wait to get back and explore more of this beautiful park!