Berry Creek Falls Loop, Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Redwood Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California
Berry Creek Falls Loop - 10.6 miles
Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Redwood Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,010' - 1,010 ' (1,364' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+354' net elevation gain (+2,461' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Berry Creek Falls Loop - 10.6 Miles Round-Trip
The Berry Creek Falls loop features Big Basin's largest redwoods, three iconic waterfalls, and numerous cascades along Kelly Creek, Waddle Creek, Berry Creek and Timms Creek. This ecologically diverse route sees Douglas fir, huckleberry and ferns at lower elevations, and knobcone pine, oak and manzanita in chaparral zones at higher elevations.
The Berry Creek Falls Loop is 10.6 miles and considered moderately strenuous. The following description travels counter-clockwise from the Redwood Trailhead at Park Headquarters:
Follow the Redwood Trail to Skyline to the Sea Trail (.05 miles : 1,015'), which crosses Opal Creek and climbs 325' to Middle Ridge Fire Road (1.0 miles : 1,340'). Here it begins a long, undulating descent through an upland redwood forest.
It passes the Sunset Trail Connector (1.5 miles) and continues uneventfully for 1.5 miles to the Timms Creek Trail split (3.0 miles : 555'). The trail drops beside and crosses West Waddell Creek to the first overlook for Berry Creek Falls (4.4 miles : 424') and the Berry Creek Falls Trail (low point of the entire loop at 390').
Turn right on the Berry Creek Falls Trail to another viewing area for Berry Creek Falls (4.45 miles : 456'). Berry Creek Falls is voluminous, even during dry periods. Redwoods, a verdant understory and rushing water form a colorful backdrop.
The trail continues left of the falls and climbs steeply to Silver Falls (5.05 miles : 710'), named for the silvery shimmer given off by reflecting light on the falls.
A steep, rope-aided climbs leads to Golden Cascade (5.15 miles : 786'), named for the golden hue cast by sun over brown algae on the sandstone under-layer. Algae combines with decaying plant material to create a shimmering reflection.
Just past Golden Cascade is the spur for Sunset Camp, a popular backcountry camp site (5.35 miles : 908'). Here the trail briefly passes through chaparral, dominated by manzanita, oak and knobcone. The canopy breaks for about .3 miles with views across Big Basin.
The trail re-enters the forest (5.75 miles : 925') and undulates to the second split for Timms Creek Trail (7.25 miles : 749') and crosses Waddle Creek (7.55 miles : 630'), where it begins a long climb through a redwood upland and tanoak forest.
Fire scarring through 8.5 miles (1,000') is the result of a controlled burn in 2008, designed to clear the understory for new redwoods. Young redwood saplings demonstrate the program's success.
The trail crests over Middle Ridge Fire Road (9.9 miles : 1,356') and begins a long trail descent by the Dool Trail (10.3 miles : 1,057') and Skyline to the Sea Trail (10.4 miles : 1,020') on its way back to park headquarters (10.6 miles - 1,010).
Note: The trail will lead you back to the east parking area - just a few steps from park headquarters and the Redwood Trailhead.
- N37 10.320 W122 13.357 — 0.00 miles: Redwood Trailhead - Park HQ
- N37 10.297 W122 13.431 — 0.10 miles: Left turn onto Skyline to the Sea Trail
- N37 10.276 W122 13.818 — 1.0 miles: Cross Middle Ridge Fire Road No.1
- N37 10.514 W122 13.940 — 1.5 miles: Pass Sunset Trail connector
- N37 10.398 W122 14.188 — 2.3 miles: Alternate trail route - stay on main trail
- N37 10.335 W122 15.054 — 3.0 miles: Timms Creek Trail split No. 1
- N37 10.155 W122 15.683 — 3.9 miles: Trail crosses creek - 420' elevation
- N37 10.141 W122 15.844 — 4.4 miles: Berry Creek Falls Overlook No. 1
- N37 10.102 W122 15.854 — 4.45 miles: Turn right onto Berry Creek Falls Trail
- N37 10.186 W122 15.881 — 4.55 miles: Berry Creek Falls main viewpoint
- N37 10.647 W122 16.205 — 5.05 miles: Silver Falls
- N37 10.657 W122 16.232 — 5.15 miles: Golden Cascade waterfall
- N37 10.697 W122 16.243 — 5.35 miles: Sunset Camp trail split - stay straight
- N37 10.701 W122 16.133 — 5.55 miles: Trail leaves forest canopy - opens up
- N37 10.771 W122 16.013 — 5.75 miles: Trail re-enters forest canopy
- N37 10.886 W122 15.234 — 7.25 miles: Timms Creek Trail split No. 2
- N37 10.991 W122 15.088 — 7.55 miles: Cross Waddle Creek and begin ascent
- N37 10.597 W122 14.727 — 8.50 miles: Evidence of big fire - redwood fire scars
- N37 10.588 W122 14.028 — 9.5 miles: Sunet - Skyline to the Sea Trail connector
- N37 10.555 W122 13.784 — 9.9 miles: Cross Middle Ridge Fire Road No. 2
- N37 10.555 W122 13.423 — 10.3 miles: Dool Trail split - turn right to Park HQ
- N37 10.522 W122 13.375 — 10.4 miles: Now back on Skyline to the Sea Trail
- N37 10.393 W122 13.383 — 10.6 miles: End Loop Trail at east parking area
- Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California's Oldest State Park, established in 1902. The park protects over 18,000 acres of old growth and recovering redwood forests with mixed conifer, oak, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations range from sea level to over 2,000'.
- Berry Creek and Berry Creek Falls were named for Tilford George Berry, a lumberman who built a cabin at the base of the falls. Berry was one of the earliest land speculators in the Big Basin area, arriving as a homesteader in the mid-1860s. Berry was a hermit, and lived his entire adult life near the banks of the creek that would ultimately bear his name.
- Berry Creek Falls is over 70' tall, Silver Falls is just over 60', and Golden Cascade is about 30' (main tier). All the creeks in the area flow into West Waddell Creek, which flows to the ocean.
- The trail may be impassable or closed during periods of heavy rain. Call ahead for trail conditions and updates.
- Clockwise travel is recommended because climbing up the falls offers a better look and surer footing than the descent. Rangers recommend taking a counter-clockwise route, which sees lighter crowds.
Climate by Season:
- Winter: Cold, overcast and rainy. Big Basin receives the majority of its average 48 inches of rain. December - March avg temperatures range from the 50s to lows in the 20s.
- Spring: Cool with showers and morning and evening fog. Average daytime highs in the 60's, lows in the 30s to 40s.
- Summer: Warm with cool nights. Morning fog in early Summer. Avg highs 75 to 95, lows 40s to 50s.
- Fall: Warm day to cold nights. Occasional early storms with rain. Avg highs 75 to 60s, lows 50s to 30. Maybe the best weather of the year.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- To reserve developed campsites, call Reserve America at 800.444.PARK (7275) or visit the Reserve America Web site. The Reserve America site has campsite maps with the location of each site in relation to parking, restrooms and other facilities.
- $35 per night for developed campsites.
- Big Basin Redwoods State Park features Tent Cabin camping. These one-room cabins are managed by a private concession. Reservations: 800-874-TENT (8368).
- Backcountry camping is available May 1 - October 31. Call 831.338.8861 for backcountry camping details and reservations.
- Fishing is not permitted in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $10 fee to enter Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
- The park is open every day year round from 6am - 10pm. Office hours are 9am - 5pm Sunday through Thursday, and 8am - 8pm Friday and Saturday.
- Dogs are welcome but must be leashed at all times. They're allowed in picnic areas, campground areas and on paved roads only. Dogs are not allowed anywhere at Rancho del Oso or on any other trails or interior roads. They must be kept in a tent or car with appropriate ventilation at night.
- Swimming is not permitted anywhere in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located about 65 miles south of San Francisco, 25 miles from San Jose, and 21 miles from Saratoga.
From San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Saratoga
Take either the 101 or 280 Highway south to the 85 freeway south. Exit 85 at Saratoga Road. Turn right and head west on Saratoga Road to a traffic signal and Highway 9. Turn right on Highway 9 through the town of Saratoga and into the mountains. Stay on Highway 9 for 12 miles to Highway 236. Turn right onto Highway 236 for 9 miles to Park Headquarters.
From Oakland, Fremont and San Jose
Take the 880 freeway south, which becomes Highway 17. As you head towards Santa Cruz and come down from the summit, you will see a sign on the freeway for Big Basin. The actual road name is Mount Hermon Road. Exit the freeway here and stay right onto Mount Hermon Road. Stay on this road through the city of Scotts Valley. Mount Hermon Road ends at an intersection with a signal (Graham Hill Rd.). Turn right at this light. You'll immediately come to another lighted intersection for Highway 9. Turn right on Highway 9 for 15 miles. You'll be traveling through several mountain towns to the town of Boulder Creek. In Boulder Creek there is one stop sign. Turn left onto Highway 236/Big Basin Way for 9 miles to Park Headquarters.
From California Highway 1, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay
Take Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. Take Highway 9 north for 15 miles. You will pass through several mountain towns to Boulder Creek. In Boulder Creek there is one stop sign. At this sign turn left onto Highway 236/Big Basin Way. Stay on this road for 9 miles to Park Headquarters.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, California, U.S.A.