Big Basin Redwoods
Brochure of Big Basin Redwoods State Park (SP) in California. Published by California Department of Parks and Recreation.
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Big Basin Redwoods State Park Our Mission The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. “ These trees, because of their size and antiquity, were among the natural wonders of the world and should be saved for posterity.” California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (831) 338-8860. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. –Andrew P. Hill, 1899 CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov SaveTheRedwoods.org/csp Big Basin Redwoods State Park 21600 Big Basin Way Boulder Creek, CA 95006 (831) 338-8860 © 2011 California State Parks (Rev. 2018) Photo courtesy of Ruskin K. Hartley B ig Basin Redwoods, California’s oldest state park, covers more than 18,000 acres ranging from sea level to more than 2,000feet elevation. This acreage launched the state park movement in California. Big Basin’s biggest attraction— literally— is a rare stand of awe-inspiring, ancient coast redwoods that are among the tallest and oldest trees on Earth. Some measure more than 300-feet tall and 50 feet in circumference. Scientists estimate that these trees may range from 1,000 to 2,500 years old. Spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, more than 80 miles of roads and trails, and a fascinating natural and cultural history have beckoned millions of visitors to Big Basin since 1902. nati Humans lived in or near Big Basin for at least 10,000 years before the Spanish explored the area in the late 1700s. The Big Basin area was home to the Cotoni and Quiroste tribes, two of more than 50 tribes comprising the Ohlone culture of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas. Grinding rocks, where Native People pounded acorns and other seeds into flour, are evidence that today’s parkland served as the interior “food basket” for coastal people. They harvested seeds of grassland plants in the meadows and gathered soap root and other bulbs for food and other uses. Parts of willow, sedge, horsetail, and fern were used to create baskets. They hunted elk, pronghorns, and mule deer. The Quiroste and Cotoni used fire and other land-management practices to promote the growth of useful plants and maintain a healthy and productive ecosystem. The Ohlone led resistance to the local Spanish mission influence in the late 1700s. Eventually, tribal culture collapsed in the face of contagious European diseases, natural-resource destruction, and the suppression of their native customs. Today, descendants of these tribes are working toward federal recognition and revitalizing their native traditions. THE REDWOODS Big Basin’s coast redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, are native to the United States; they grow only along the coast from southern Oregon to Central California. The name Sequoia may honor Sequoyah, the 19th-century inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, and sempervirens means “ever living.” These trees are part of a once-huge ancient forest of which less than 5 percent remains. The redwood is California’s official state tree. Sawmill, 1900 Sempervirens Club with the famous Father of the Forest tree, 1901 The Santa Cruz redwood forest was first noted in accounts of a Spanish coastal expedition led by Gaspar de Portolá in 1769. Less than a century later, logging— to meet the demands of the Gold Rush and urban development — threatened to deplete the forest. By 1884, the area’s 28 sawmills were annually processing more than 34 million board feet of lumber, as well as shingles, railroad ties, and posts. PARK HISTORY As logging continued, a battle to protect the ancient trees in the heart of Big Basin became the focus of citizens united to save the redwoods. Photographer Andrew P. Hill, journalist Josephine McCrackin, writer-publisher Carrie Stevens Walter, and a growing coalition of journalists, politicians, artists, businessmen, and scholars formed the Sempervirens Club in May of 1900. As Walter wrote, “Once gone, no human power or ingenuity can replace them. Even the most callous-minded materialist does not love to think of this swirling globe as a treeless place.” The Sempervirens Club enlisted and mobilized supporters throughout the state to join the race to pass legislation that would protect Big Basin’s ancient The forest supports a variety of redwoods. In life. Top to bottom: false turkey tail fungus, western azalea, March 1901, banana slug a State bill created California Redwood Park (renamed Big Basin Redwoods State Park in 1927). In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the redwood Nature Lodge and Park Headquarters, a campfire center, footbridges, cabins, stoves, and a trail network. Today, preservation of the park’s natural wonders has returned to the forefront. The emphasis is preservation of the forest’s entire ecology, with its significant geologic features, wildlife corridors, and massive watershed. The park continues to grow through partnerships with private nonprofit groups such as Save the Redwoods League and the Sempervirens Fund. NATURAL HISTORY Ecology and vegetation Some redwoods measure more than 300feet tall and 50 feet in circumference. However, with no taproot, redwood trees rely on a network of far-reaching roots about six-feet deep, intertwined with those of other redwoods. Soil compaction is a danger to these roots. Knobcone pine, Douglas-fir, red alder, madrone, chinquapin, and buckeye also grow here. The forest’s tanoak tree bark once provided tannin for local leather tanneries. Huckleberry, azaleas, wild orchids, ferns, manzanita, Indian paintbrush, and poppies dot the park. Wildlife, Geology, and Climate Foxes, coyotes, and bobcats live throughout the park. Banana slugs feed on organic matter, plants, and mushrooms on the forest floor. Newts, lizards, and frogs are bountiful in the coast’s damp, moist climate. California quail, brown creepers, various woodpeckers, owls, and flickers are some common bird species found in the park. Be alert for rattlesnakes, poison oak, and ticks. Use caution if you see a mountain lion; report aggressive encounters to park staff. Geologically, the park’s rock formations are a “Franciscan assemblage”— outcrops of serpentinite, basalt, limestone, ribbon chert, graywacke, sandstone, and shale. Each season offers a different park experience. The intense greens of mosses contrast with the subtle colors of lichens and mushrooms during wet winters. Rushing waterfalls and wildflowers abound in the cool, foggy spring. Find a shady getaway from inland heat in summertime. Fall offers pleasant weather without storms, mosquitoes, or extreme heat. Climate change affects the redwood forest. Coast redwoods receive much of their water and nutrients from fog drippings. A 2010 University of California, Berkeley study found that the coast now has 75 percent fewer foggy days than it did a century ago. Mature redwoods can survive, but fewer foggy days mean fewer seedlings mature into trees. RECREATIONAL ACTIvITIES A year-round activity schedule can be found on the park’s website. The park’s Nature Lodge Museum and the Visitor Center have natural and cultural exhibits. The coastal Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center offers exhibits and guided tours; call (831) 427-2288. Camping — 146 family campsites, four group camping sites, tent cabins, backcountry trail camps, and horse camping are available. For complete camping options and reservations, visit www.parks.ca.gov/bigbasin or call (800) 444-7275. For reservations to the Interpretive programs at the campfire center Rancho del Oso Horse Camp near Waddell Beach, call (831) 338-8861. For Little Basin Group Camp information, call (831) 338-3314. Backpacking — Big Basin has five backcountry trail camps for backpackers. These trail camps are connected to a wider network of trails throughout Portola Redwoods State Park, Castle Rock State Park, and Butano State Park. This network of trail camps gives backpackers the chance to take multiday trips along the famed Skyline to the Sea Trail and beyond. Reservations and permits are required, and no dispersed camping is permitted. For information and reservations, visit www.parks.ca.gov/ scmtrailcamps. Trails — Big Basin’s 80 miles of roads and trails introduce visitors not only to the redwoods, but to the park’s different habitats and plants. Guided hikes are scheduled. The easy stroller- and wheelchair-accessible Redwood Loop Trail winds a half-mile through the ancient redwood environment. Visitors can see Opal Creek, some of the larger old-growth trees, a redwood ring, and the giant Mother and Father of the Forest trees. Rated moderate, the Sequoia Trail passes spectacular Sempervirens Falls. A strenuous hike on the Berry Creek Falls Trail passes many of the largest old-growth redwood trees, Berry Creek, and its four waterfalls. The 33-mile Skyline to the Sea and restrooms. See http://access.parks. ca.gov for details. Sempervirens Falls Trail runs from Castle Rock State Park through Big Basin to Waddell Beach at Rancho del Oso. During the winter, seasonal bridges on the Skyline to the Sea Trail are removed when Waddell Creek is high. ACCESSIBLE FEATURES Restrooms and showers are accessible. Parking, eight campsites, three tent cabins, the main picnic area, and several trails are accessible, as are the main Visitor Center, Park Headquarters, the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center, please • All natural and cultural features in the park are protected by law and may not be disturbed or removed. Collecting is prohibited, including down wood. • Purchase firewood from the park store or camp hosts. • Be prepared for mosquitoes in summer. • Feeding wildlife is prohibited by law. • Be crumb clean! Please do not leave food out— not even a crumb. Use food lockers and don’t leave any food unguarded. • Dispose of all trash properly. Recycle glass, plastic, and aluminum. • Except for service animals on a leash no longer than six-feet long, dogs are never allowed on any trails, unpaved service/ fire roads, in any portion of Rancho del Oso, or on Waddell Beach. THE mARBLED mURRELET, a seabird about the size of a robin, is a redwoods inhabitant listed as endangered in California and threatened in the U.S. The murrelet nests high on a limb in the redwood canopy, hundreds of feet above ground. The bird travels up to 30 miles at dawn and dusk to feed on herring, smelt, or anchovies as it swims through the ocean. The murrelet parents trade off for morning and evening feeding; the mother hatches only one chick per year. Marbled murrelet eggs and babies are prey to the park’s corvids — jays, crows, and ravens. They are first attracted to food or crumbs left by humans, and then the corvids notice the murrelet nests high in trees. Photo Courtesy of Rich MacIntosh big The establishment of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in 1902 marked the beginning of the preservation and conservation movement in California and provided the vision for the hundreds of California state parks we enjoy today. In 1900, San Jose photographer Andrew P. Hill photographed the coast redwood trees in Felton Grove, now part of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The then-owner of the forest accused Hill of trespassing and demanded Andrew P. Hill his negatives. Hill refused self-portrait, 1915 and left, vowing to himself to save the trees for future generations and “make a public park of this place.” After a landmark meeting at Stanford University in May of 1900, Santa Cruz businessmen led Hill, journalists, and politicians on an excursion to Big Basin, an ancient forest threatened by logging. After three days of exploring the forest’s wonders, the group elected officers and formed the Sempervirens Club. The club and its growing team of supporters pushed the State Legislature to approve a bill to purchase the land. The bill passed unanimously. Thus was established California Redwood Park— known since 1927 as Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Andrew P. Hill photographed much of the early history of Big Basin: Father of the Forest redwood, ca. 1915 Sempervirens Club annual meeting, ca. 1915 Campfire benches and tents, ca. 1915 nearby Año Nuevo State Park 20 miles N of Santa Cruz on Hwy. 1 Pescadero 94060 (650) 879-2025 Butano State Park 1500 Cloverdale Road Pescadero 94060 (650) 879-2040 Castle Rock State Park 15000 Skyline Blvd. Los Gatos 95030 (408) 867-2952 This park receives support in part through two nonprofit organizations: Mountain Parks Foundation (inland areas) 525 N. Big Trees Park Rd., Felton, CA 95018 (831) 335-3174 • www.mountainparks.org _______ Waddell Creek Association (Rancho del Oso) 3600 Highway 1, Davenport, CA 95017 (831) 427-2288 • www.ranchodeloso.org g 2000 eek s Unio ad Ro S e a Trail Creek al Op Es rth Huckleberry Wastahi P e dd ll on Cre ek il Tra Sha do uoia Seq wb rook Trail Bob Kirsch Connector Trail Tent Cabins East Ridge Connector Trail il Tra w Ridge Rd Trail op uoia a Tr M ea do Lo od dw o Re 300 Meters a W to Santa Cruz il Sk y Sempervirens Sha ek d Cre Hihn Creek 0' 200 Jay Blooms Ha mm on 20 see detail map 100 Trail Hih Sky Co n Ha linenn mm ec tor ond Tra Op il al k ee Cr 00 Seq P East R d Blo oms Creek e in Pin nta ou il M Tra 10 P Ridg e il Tra Blooms Creek st N 0 Park Headquarters Visitor Center 1000ft 305m Ea A 1 ill E 1,000 Feet the ni 0 Trail 0 dow bro Creek Ridge ok Tra il Trail 0.25 0.5 236 Ea st Rid 0.5 Mi 1 Km ge Tra il © 2011 California State Parks (Rev. 2018) C 500 to a Skyline PACIFIC OCEAN M O Ranger Station 0 P P Hoover Nature Trail Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center Sequoia Old Lodge eek 1000 BBRSP Waddell Beach S k y l in e Cr U P n to th e Theodore J. 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Ease m B U TA N O Campground: Horse 00 State Park Campground: Group Paved Road to Portola Redwoods SP and Pescadero Creek County Park Ba sin Big Basin Redwoods Campground Major Road 10 Legend