From Big Basin State Park Headquarters, hike the Skyline to the Sea Trail to Berry Creek Falls, then hike up the Berry Creek Falls Trail past Silver Falls and the Golden Cascade, then continue on to Sunset trail camp. The closest water is at Berry Creek, so fill up there before hiking to the camp.
This can be turned in to a two-night trip if you start by camping at the Jay Trail Camp in the Big Basin headquarters area.
An alternate route is start at the Rancho del Oso Nature Center near Waddell Beach and walk upstream to Berry Creek Falls and Sunset Trail Camp. This an out-and-back hike, roughly 7 miles each way, with an easy downhill back to the trailhead. You can even run into the Pacific Ocean at the end! But you’ll miss the old growth redwoods, which are all in the narrower upstream canyon that couldn’t be logged.
Why Go Here?
The Berry Creek Falls Loop is the most popular trail in the park, and probably the most popular long trail in the SF Bay Area. You’ll find plenty of reasons to hike it. But backpacking means you can be on the trail when fewer people are there. Maybe you want to hike the loop so that you go to the falls on the morning of the second day, so you’ll be there in the morning before the crowds arrive.
Reservations and Planning
Campsites are $15 per night with an $8 processing fee. For two sites and a group of 13 or more, there is a flat fee of $25.
Reservations can be made 60 days in advance, online.
Big Basin State Park was heavily damaged in the 2020 CZU Complex wildfires. It may be a while before the camp is rebuilt and can reopen.
Links and Resources
- Santa Cruz Mountains Backcountry Trail Camps reservations: Santa Cruz Mountains Backcountry Trail Camps
- Guide to the camps: https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/540/files/Backcounty%20Trail%20Camp%20Guide%206.4.2020.pdf
- Big Basin State Park page: Big Basin Redwoods SP
- Rancho del Oso Nature Center page: Rancho Del Oso Nature and History Center
- Big Basin State Park overview from Redwood Hikes: Big Basin Redwoods State Park
- From Redwood Hikes, doing the loop from HQ in the opposite direction: The Berry Creek Loop
- Sunset Trail Camp: Sunset Trail Camp
- Photos from a trip starting with an overnight at Jay Trail Camp (park HQ): Big Basin, June 2008 | Flickr