The Basin Loop in the Big Basin State Park

California Hike: The Basin Loop in the Big Basin State Park

Gorgeous 12-mile hike with beautiful panoramic vistas to the Monterey Bay.

December 24, 2004

Report by J. Zimmerman and Scott Peden.

Some more highlights:

  1. Great views of Eagle Rock, Pine Mountain, Buzzards Roost all the way to Waddell Valley in Rancho del Oso.

  2. Poison Oak leafing out!

  3. Toyon in full glory: the California Christmas Bush (the state shrub) is heavily loaded in red berries.

  4. Madrone trees loaded with heavy red berries too.

  5. Lots of redwoods included large areas of stunted redwoods and one especially interesting redwood at Sky Sea and China Grade road.

  6. Lots of Shield Ferns on Hollow tree trail where it meet Sky-Sea, and a couple on Sky-Sea nearby. Other ferns seen today were the Sword Fern (the Shield Fern's companion), the Western Chain Fern, Goldback Fern, Five-finger Fern, Wood Fern, California Polypody, and a bunch of really old Bracken Ferns.

  7. Birds on the Basin Trail: Scrub Jays and a Raven (early on Sky Sea); Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Golden Crowned Sparrow, Hummingbird.

Flowers in sequence first seen in counter-clockwise loop.

From Big Basin Park HQ, walk north along Skyline to the Sea Trail (on North Escape Road initially).

At junction with Hollow Creek Trail, walk east on the continuation of Skyline to the Sea Trail.

  1. Brittle-Leaved Manzanita with the big, gorgeous, almost luminous, white blossoms. Notice the square base of the leaf stem, with hairs on twigs 1-to-3 times the length of the diameter of the twig. It has large burl that will resprout after a fire or cutting. The leaves have a stem.
  2. Sensitive Manzanita. Shiny both sides. It has no burl and if killed by fire or cutting will not come back to life.

    Turn northwest on Basin Trail (just before China Grade Road).

  3. Coyote brush.
  4. Heart-Leaved or Santa Cruz Mountains Manzanita. This has no leaf petiole (stem); the hairs on the stem are not as long as the diameter of the stem. Burl won't have fire marks as fire or cutting will kill it. The leaf where it joins the stem is heart-shaped or at least ear-shaped.

    Turn west on Hollow Tree Trail (just before Lane Camp).

    Alternate 1: Continue on Hollow Creek Trail to Middle Ridge Fire Road and walk south on the Fire Road to join Sunset Trail and head back to camp as on the Berry Creek Falls Loop Trail.

  5. False Dandelion.

Trail

  1. From Big Basin Park HQ, walk north along Skyline to the Sea Trail (can walk on North Escape Road initially).
  2. At junction with Hollow Creek Trail, walk east on the continuation of Skyline to the Sea Trail.
  3. Turn northwest on Basin Trail (just before China Grade Road).
  4. Turn west on Hollow Tree Trail (just before Lane Camp).
  5. Alternate 1: Continue on Hollow Creek Trail to Middle Ridge Fire Road and walk south on the Fire Road to join Sunset Trail and head back to camp as on the Berry Creek Falls Loop Trail.
  6. Alternate 2 (Scott): Stayed on Hollow Creek Trail to Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.

See also these pages