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Butano State Park
The park’s connection to California Indian and Ohlone history is rich as is its archaeological significance, as it lies directly along an ancient trading and seasonal migration route, mainly used by the tribelet that controlled the area, the Quiroste (KEER-osh-tee). Now it’s a green and pleasant park, great for day hikes of all sizes, car camping, and short backcountry overnight trips.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
In 1902, the early environmental movement saw one of its crowning moments come to glorious fruition with the formation of the California Redwood Park. The park, later renamed Big Basin Redwoods State Park, would prove to be the first unit in what would eventually evolve into the modern California State Parks system.
Guide To Goat Rock
Billed as the gateway of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park earns that title in spectacular fashion. A great staging ground for a number of adventures, from bouldering to rock climbing, day hiking to backpacking, and even birding. The crown jewel, Goat Rock, is a limestone formation that is typical of the park’s geology…
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Though it’s not the biggest park in the county, there are hiking, biking, and equestrian options beyond what’s described here. It’s strongly recommended that adventurers go by the Visitor Center and talk to the docents about hike ideas, trail closures, wildlife sightings, and whatever other…
Hike to Berry Creek Falls
One can experience an excellent hike to the iconic Berry Creek Falls by hiking a 9-mile out-and-back trail from Big Basin HQ. Of course, the full splendor comes on the 11-mile loop, with three additional waterfalls, all of them along the spectacular Berry Creek Falls Trail.
Hunting for Banana Slugs
Banana slugs are fascinating, even mesmerizing to observe in person. Watching one slide its way down a portion of a miles-long trail or up the side of a towering redwood is a meditative experience. However, despite their low speeds, they’re not always the easiest organisms to track down.
Portola Redwoods State Park
Named for the explorer Gaspar de Portola, whose 18th-century overland expedition passed nearby, the rich ecology of the area once supported one of the largest Ohlone tribelets, the Quiroste. Now it’s a mainstay for savvy mountain visitors who’ve already gotten their fill of other, more popular parks in the area.
The Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail runs about 30 miles, depending on where you start and what side quests you settle on. Fulfilling the promise of its name, the trail dips, climbs and winds from the peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. On this epic journey, it passes waterfalls, springs and creeks, wetlands and chaparral…