Big Basin, California’s oldest State Park, is home to an impressive array of wildlife and pristine redwood groves. Although only 35 miles from San Jose, Big Basin State Park is a world away from the buzzing technology of Silicon Valley.
Narrow roads that wind through the Santa Cruz Mountains give the park a secluded quality rarely experienced so near an urban center. In fact, cell reception is nonexistent; expect to disconnect and enjoy the solace for the duration of your trip. Likewise, a thick redwood canopy and the surrounding landscape disable most GPS devices, so be prepared with traditional orienteering tools if you venture out on the park’s 80 miles of hiking trails.
Approachable, family friendly trails such as Dool and Creeping Forest can be found near the well equipped day use picnic areas. Gazos Picnic Area, across the Opal Creek Bridge, is removed from the noise and tourist action closer to the main gate. These nearly private sites feature potable water, picnic tables, fire pits and charcoal barbecues.
Big Basin State Park hosts a variety of camping options that include tent cabins, horse camps, walk-in tent sites and RV sites without hookups. Backcountry campsites are available along some of the more advanced routes such as the 30 mile Skyline to the Sea Trail. Dogs and fires are prohibited at trail camps. Reservations are recommended at all campsites during the drier summer months. Backcountry camps are closed November 1 through April 30.
Big Basin is a crumb-clean park, and the staff works very hard to keep the wildlife wild. The park’s free natural history museum allows you to get up close and personal with the animals that call Big Basin home. Firewood and sundries are available at the attached general store.