Guides

Activities, Backpacking, Hiking, & More!

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Butano State Park

Butano State Park doesn’t have the enormous ancient redwoods you’ll find at other Redwood State Parks, though it’s rumored that in some secret corner, far off-trail, there hides one of the tallest specimens in these mountains. Still, it more than makes up for lack of accessible old-growth groves with its biodiversity and panoramic views. The…

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. The park continued…

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 Redwoods State Park 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. Be forewarned; both are strenuous backcountry…

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. Like a good hunter does their prey,…

Portola Redwoods State Park

Coming into Portola Redwoods State Park is akin to entering Doyle’s Lost World. Winding down a seemingly-forgotten road, watching as the ferns and huckleberries grow taller, the human population drops conspicuously. Cell service vanishes entirely, and it’s hard not to be overtaken by a growing sense of adventure and wonder. Named for the explorer Gaspar…

Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail

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…