Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located 25 miles northwest of Santa Cruz and 65 miles south of San Francisco. Established in 1902 it’s the oldest State Park in California and home to the ancient coastal redwoods. The southern route from Santa Cruz will take you up hwy. 9 to the small town of Boulder Creek. At the stoplight you pickup hwy. 236 for a short but windy 9 miles to reach the Park Headquarters and Visitors Center.¬† This windy stretch of hwy. 9 has a maximum multi-axle length restriction so if you are towing check to make sure you fit into the limits.

Park Headquarters and Visitors Center are wheelchair accessible and the parking are has several handicap parking spots. The parking lot is quite large and the end parking stalls are also an excellent option for parking if you need room to deploy your lift. From the park headquarters it’s a short distance to the Nature Lodge Store. The inside is tight on space with narrow isles and tight corners but I was able to negotiate throughout in my electric wheelchair.

As for the trails, we found Redwood Loop Trail to be the most accessible trail in the park. Most of the trail is mostly crushed packed gravel with a hard surface. With mild effort I could have easily used my manual wheelchair on this trail. This trail is home to several of the popular ancient coastal redwoods  and you have almost as many photographic opportunities as there are trees. One morning we spent 3 hours photographing along the trail and found ourselves returning the next morning to photograph what we missed.  After you make the loop around the trial turns south paralleling hwy. 236 to Blooms Creek Campground. This stretch of trail is hard packed dirt and everything that falls from the redwoods. The trail is not manicured but we found it very easy to navigate with my electric wheelchair, although I would not recommend a manual chair here. This was a fun part of the trail to do and we found it a great photographic treat with Fungus, moss, mushrooms, Banana Slugs, dead trees and more.

I should back track to mention the opportunities of the The Sea Trail. From the main trail of the Redwoods Loop Trail you pass the amphitheater and come to a small wooden bridge. Once across the bridge you need to go to the left, if you go right you chose wrongly and will need to retreat. Left is a moderately easy trail about .6-.8 mile long placing you in the middle of a forest of trees seemingly isolated from society.

We also ventured along Hihn Hammond Road to Waddell Creek Pine Mountain Road to East Ridge Trail. Up to this point travel was across asphalt and hard packed dirt road, these appear to be park maintenance roads. East Ridge Trail was a challenge and is primarily a foot path of hard packed dirt. You will encounter several obstacles along this trail, from exposed tree roots to rocks and small washes. We managed to make it to tails end at the south end of Blooms Creek Campground, but don’t think you can do this trail in a few hours. I will say the experience of finding yourself deep in this forest of giant redwoods in the middle of nowhere was worth twice the effort.

Another wheelchair accessible hike is along North Escape Road, which follows Opal Creek. This area is set aside as a day use/picnic area with picnic tables, fire and barbeque pits. This area is very busy during the summer months providing many short trails for easy travel. We found ferns, fungus, mushrooms, and more Banana Slugs among the opportunities to easily photograph. During our hike along North Escape Rd. we took a detour to Gazos Creek Road, not much to see but it led us to The Sea Trail, which was a cool trail. Much like East Ridge Trail, including those fun obstacles of nature, we discovered some beautiful rich green deep forest compositions to photograph.

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