Bigger than you Think
Little Basinís 524 acres pales in comparison with its 18,000-acre
neighbor, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, but this private, hopefully
soon-to-be public, park has lots to offer, including camping with
less crowding, more comfort, and a wider selection of
accommodations. Although there are less than ten miles of trail
within the park, Little Basin has both moderate hikes and
challenging climbs, including the Eagle Rock Trail that campers told
me presented one of the best scenic views in Santa Cruz County.
Also, a short walk takes you to Big Basinís eighty miles of trails,
featuring the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods
south of San Francisco, many lovely waterfalls, and walks to Waddell
Creek beaches, Castle Rock State Park, and Long Ridge Open Space.
Each campsite has a charcoal-burning barbecue grill, a table with
benches, a food locker, and wood-burning fire pit. You can buy
charcoal and firewood at Little Basin, and get other supplies next
door at Big Basin.
Fifteen cabins are available, including two with wheelchair access.
Cabins have two double-bed frames, a single-bed frame, a table, and
a small storage shelf. Some cabins accommodate up to eight people.
The cabins are rustic. They donít have electricity or water, and no
mattress or bedding is provided. Water is nearby, and the cabins do
have door locks.
Thirty-one spaces accommodate two provided tents each. Seventeen
spaces serve ten trailers. Twelve spaces satisfy motor homes
28-foot-long or less; five serve motor homes up to fifty feet in
Facilities include baseball fields, large running-water bathrooms
with showers, volleyball court, basketball court, horseshoe pit,
fishing reservoir, childrenís playground, conference center, picnic
areas, parking terraces, large open meadows, and paved roads
throughout the campground area for biking and roller blading.
A cabin costs $50 a day. A tent site is $25 a day. Day users pay $6
per vehicle. Overnight reservations add a $7.50 service charge.
Little Basin is not open to the general public, but you can enjoy
this little paradise if you become a member of the Sempervirens Fund
organization. An individual membership is $35. For more information
on becoming a member, visit www.sempervirens.org. For more
information about Little Basin, visit www.littlebasin.org.
In 2007, Hewlett-Packard transferred ownership of Little Basin to
the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and Sempervirens Fund for
permanent resource protection and public recreation. These two
organizations are maintaining the land until a public agency can
assume ownership. In time, Little Basin should be added to the
California State Parks system, but now you can enjoy this park and
protect our local environment with a small donation.
Docents Howard Read and Kristin Hageseth led fifteen of us on a
two-mile hike over Tanbark Loop Trail. The trail took us up and down
relatively easy grades through redwoods, knob-cone pines, and mixed
hardwood forest. Although we didnít see any old-growth redwoods, the
mature trees were majestic and beautiful.
The wildflowers were out in force. Iíve never seen so many mountain
irises and tiny two-eyed violets.
Although I still prefer my solitary hikes, the docents enriched our
experience with their knowledge of local history, botany, and
geology. We made many stops along the way to share the beauty,
touch, and smells of the natural world.
The shortest route for most of us is Bear Creek Road to
Boulder Creek. At Highway 9, turn left toward Boulder Creek, then
turn right on Highway 236 (Big Basin Way). Follow 236 for 6.4 miles,
and then turn left on Little Basin Road. This last road is rough so
drive slowly into the park. Allow an hour for the trip. (This route
is 25 miles from my home off Summit Road to Little Basin.)
A longer, less scenic route is on Highway 17 south to Mount Hermon,
through Felton, and then up Highway 9 to Boulder Creek. (This route
from my home to Little Basin is 31 miles.) Another option is to take
Highway 9 up from Saratoga, across Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35),
down to the northern end of Highway 236, and through Big Basin to
Camping at Little Basin could help you see more and hike longer with
more comfort and without packing lots of heavy gear. It sounds like
a good alternative.
My thanks to Len
Smith for recommending Little Basin.