Big Basin Redwoods State Park
This park in the Santa Cruz Mountains southwest of San Jose is Bay Area's No. 1 locale for old-growth redwoods. It bests Muir Woods in every category: bigger trees, smaller crowds, richer forests.
The 12-mile loop to Berry Creek Falls via the Sunset and Skyline-to-the-Sea trails is the consensus pick as best Bay Area hike. The big however: a hike this long can be brutal if you're out of shape. Any of the many trails near the park HQ will pass stands of stunning ancient redwoods, and you won''t have to endure a strength-sapping six-hour trek.
If you''re up for a moderate hike of about six to seven miles, try a loop on the Sunset, Timms Creek and Skyline-to-the-Sea trails (get a map and consult with a ranger at the park HQ). Any of these hikes will redefine your conception of a walk in the woods.
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