Nearby Destinations

How does this work?
Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California, United States

Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Long hike through old-growth redwoods to shimmering waterfalls is a Bay Area favorite.

Content
provided by
Viewed 221255 times
    This guide contains photos
 (55 votes, 26 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 10.2 miles / 16.4 km
Duration: Full day
 
Overview: Redwoods and waterfalls make this the best hike in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you're up for 11 miles and a thousand feet of elevation gain spread out over a half-day, you'll be amazed to see the strain melt away in this land of the giants.

Veteran Berry Creek Falls hikers recommend a counter-clockwise loop starting on the Sunset Trail, turning left on to the Berry Creek Falls Trail, taking another left onto the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail, which returns to the trailhead.

When to go: This hike can be done in almost any weather. Winter rains bring greater flow to the falls, but the shorter days create a greater risk of running out of daylight.


Tips: Buy a map at the park HQ - it's easy to get lost at Big Basin without one.

If you see a banana slug, resist the urge to pick it up. Salt on human skin is damaging to the slug's moist exterior.

What to bring
Map: Buy one at the park HQ.
Layers: It's often very cool in the redwoods but warm in the sun.
Camera
Proper hiking gear (and food/water)

Points of Interest

map

Trailhead

Big Basin Redwoods State Park has a large parking lot; park first, then cross the road to the park headquarters to pay your parking fee. A broad trail opens from the parking lot. Check the large park map in the lot to get your bearings before starting out.
map

Dool/Sunset Trails

Take the broad trail from the parking lot (to the left of the campfire area) for a short stretch till you see a break in the fence -- pass through it, cross a bridge over the Opal Creek and come to a trail junction.

This is the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, where this hike will end. Turn right and follow Skyline to the Sea for about a third of a mile till you see the Dool Trail.

Turn left on Dool Trail but keep your eyes peeled for the turnoff at Sunset Trail -- a left turn just up the trail. Stay on Sunset and climb through a redwood grove till you reach Middle Ridge Road.
map

Sunset to Berry Creek Trail

Cross Middle Ridge Road -- you'll see a sign warning of the long hike ahead. Stay on Sunset Trail, which descends gradually down to West Waddell Creek.

After the Waddell Creek Crossing, the trail climbs gradually till you see a sign for Timms Creek Trail -- by now you'll know if you're up for the whole 11 miles. If you're tired, turn left on the Timms Creek Trail for a gentle walk through a lovely stand of redwoods till you find the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, then take another left and return to the trailhead.

If you must see the waterfalls, stay on Sunset for a steep climb up the hillside. Soon the sign for Sunset Camp will tell you you're almost to the falls.
map

Golden Cascade

Soon you'll hear water roaring in the distance, then you'll turn a bend and see water pouring over a large, yellow-brown stretch of creekbed. This is the Golden Cascade and the Berry Creek Falls Trail.

From here the trail gets narrow and tricky in places; use extreme caution.
map

Silver Falls

Water tumbles down the canyon till it reaches another major drop-off -- this is Silver Falls.

You'll be so close to the falls you can almost reach them -- but you'll really want to grab the steel cable and step gingerly down the trail.

The base of Silver Falls is one of the best photo opportunities in the park. It's also a nice place to break for a snack and recharge for the remaining hike to come.
map

Berry Creek Falls

Berry Creek Falls Trail continues through a sublime redwood grove and eventually comes out at Berry Creek Falls, the subject of so many photographic forays.

There's a large viewing platform to soak in the view, but there's also invariably a mass of humanity, too, so you'll be itching to move on soon.
map

Skyline to the Sea Trail

Berry Creek Falls Trail ends at Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, where you turn left and head for the park HQ.

The first section of this trail includes a short steep climb to a bench where you can pause for one last look at the falls, then descends to a make-shift creek crossing bridge that is occasionally under water or removed during heavy rains.

From here it's a long, lush climb back to Middle Ridge Road, and a quick downhill jaunt to the park HQ. Just take your time and absorb the experience of passing among these majestic trees. It can be quite tiring if you take it too quickly.

Not long after passing the Timms Creek Trail you'll see an "alternate" trail -- this adds about a half-mile to the hike; it's scenic but disorienting, and best avoided if this is your first time on this hike.
Reviews
inqueba
one of the most beautiful places i ever visited

by inqueba on Jul 17, 2014
hairtransplant
not as difficult as people scare of... it fas fun...when u r with your wonderful friends

by hairtransplant on Jul 17, 2014
cpaggen
Just completed the loop counter-clockwise (Sunset -> Berry Creek -> Skyline) this morning. It took a little over 4 hours to complete, but I was alone and maintained a pretty fast pace throughout. The hike is very pretty and the sights of those waterfalls are worth the effort. I had never seen banana slugs before (I'm visiting from Belgium where that species does not exist). I spotted a skunk and what I think is a bobcat as well. And those gigantic trees ... wow!!!

The loop is quite strenuous. My GPS indicates a total ascent of 2245-ft which sounds a bit enthusiastic. My legs feel more like I climbed 1500-ft. Even with today's cool weather (55F - 62F) I drank 2 liters (half a gallon) of water. Most of the trail is in the shade except for one (beautiful) short section in limestone, so if you're heading for the trail with higher temperatures pack plenty of water!



Visited on May 18, 2014

by cpaggen on May 18, 2014
kelseyaking
A really beautiful trail; we hiked it in about 6 hours, but I would recommend doing it in 8 or so in order to have more time to stop, take pics, and eat lunch. The trail was a bit crowded at times, but there's a reason there are so many people on the trail :)
Visited on Mar 31, 2013

by kelseyaking on Apr 27, 2014
legkickr
We hiked this loop from 9:15am - 5:00pm. We had enough time to take lots of pictures, observe wildlife, short breaks when our legs were burning during a climb and had lunch by the waterfall.

We hiked the loop counter-clockwise. If you would usually get tired around 7-8 miles, I recommend hiking this loop clockwise. Hiking clockwise is by the flowing creek and other sceneries. If you hike counter clockwise and you dont have much energy in 7 miles, you may not pay attention at the beauty as much because you just want to reach the park headquarters. But if you stay hydrated, eat lots of snacks, wearing proper gear and have great appreciation of everything in the park, you will enjoy whichever direction of the loop you take.

Visited on Apr 26, 2014

by legkickr on Apr 27, 2014
alon-m
I am not local to this area, and I had one free day for hiking. I had chosen this trail out of many and do not regret my choice.
For me it was not easy at all... I planned doing the full loop, but I ended up with going to the Berry Creek Fall and back. I was too exhausted.
Well, I was carrying with me an extensive photography gear, I am not that young and not in my best shape...:-)
Including all the stops for photography (that what I canme for), it took me 4 hours to reach the falls. I think I missed one turn somewhere so I actually zigzagged between two trails - which added some distance (2-3 miles maybe). It took me half of the time to get back (a. it was a shorter path, and b. I was too exhausted to make any photographs...).
I enjoyed it very much, not too much water in the waterfalls, but still a refreshing site.
Take a lot of water. Mine finished too early. I almost got dehydrated.
The trail that leads to the falls "clock-wise" (as recommended by the rangers) is fully shaded. As I understood from other hikers, the rest of the trail is much more exposed to the sun, and the climbing is much more strenuous. This, for me, was the final "nail" in the coffin.
I enjoyed it much, and I think I am going to enjoy now a good massage...

Visited on Mar 15, 2014

by alon-m on Mar 15, 2014
inizchetan
great place ,awesome weather :)
Visited on Apr 07, 2011

by inizchetan on Feb 25, 2014
BruceWong
Great Guide and great trail, I got there early, I only really saw around 4 other people on my way to the falls, The ranger seemed to recommend taking the lop clock wise, but I did it counter clock wise like this guide advised, It was nice, i went alone so it was almost serene just how quiet and beautiful it is out there.
Visited on Feb 02, 2014

by BruceWong on Feb 05, 2014
GJohnson39
Our plans to hike Yosemite were thwarted by the government shutdown, so we looked online and found this hike highly recommended.

We were so blown away by the scenic beauty on the drive up to the park, and felt instantly lilliputian parking under the canopy of Sequoia trees. We got an early start (about 9AM), and were glad to have dressed in lots of layers - temp was in the high 30's.

We followed the rangers recommendation and did the trail clockwise so as to approach the falls from below. Met very few people on the trail till we got above Golden Falls, so we had lots of time to enjoy our visit in peace and quiet. We stripped off our outer layers and stuffed them into our day pack at the falls. Temp had gone up by at least 20 degrees and we were getting nice and warm.

Breaking out onto Sunset Ridge after the climb up the falls, it was rewarding to look out over the tops of the trees and get a feel for how high we had climbed - the sun felt really good too.

We dropped down into the basin again and then spend the last few miles slowly climbing back up to the Park HQ. We knew we were close to the end when we heard dogs barking, something that would normally annoy but was, in this situation, a welcome signal that the end was near. By the end of the hike, ambient temp was in the high 70's.

The trail itself took us just under 4 hours, and was one of the most enjoyable mornings we have spent in a long while. The trail is not as difficult as the other we did on the same long weekend (Mt Diablo Grand Loop), but the long climbs up the falls and out of basin, plus the overall length of the trail can challenge beginners.

By the time we finished, the parking lot was full and we were happy to make our way down to Santa Cruz for lunch.

I will definitely recommend this trail and park to all our friends.

Visited on Oct 12, 2013

by GJohnson39 on Oct 15, 2013
andy1142
Wonderful hike. The falls are beautiful and make for a great place to stop for a bit and have lunch. If you start late in the day just remember to get out before sunset. We ended up cutting it pretty close...
Visited on Apr 09, 2013

by andy1142 on Oct 08, 2013
rousik
Great hike. Easy terrain, nicely varied. Long enough to get you sweating, especially with the hot weather we got this Saturday.
Visited on Sep 07, 2013

by rousik on Sep 09, 2013
runningblonde
These hike was absolutely lovely! The trail is well marked and mostly packed dirt. Thankfully all but a small part is under tree cover because we picked a hot day! The climbs are mostly rolling hills, which was perfect. If you're interested in my photos and stories, you can read about it here: http://runningblonde.com/hiking-big-basin-redwoods-state-park/
Visited on Jun 27, 2013

by runningblonde on Jul 19, 2013
JeannieHorner
This hike was the highlight of our five-day stay at Big Basin. Absolutely loved it. Very glad that we did it counter-clockwise (going out on the Sunset Trail and coming back on the Skyline to the Sea Trail). Climbing down into the waterfalls area was much better than vice-versa, and we were glad that the most scenic part was towards the end of the hike. Can't wait to do this hike again next time we're up there.
Visited on Jun 12, 2013

by JeannieHorner on Jun 18, 2013
dhoover
Great hike, nice guide - only comment is elevation gain actually is about 2.700', not the 1000 stated in the guide. Makes a big difference!
Visited on Jun 09, 2013

by dhoover on Jun 10, 2013
arvindsd
My first hike.
I loved it. Completed in 4hrs and 30 mins.
Moderately strenuous.
Bring something to eat and drink.
Be dressed properly... there are mosquitoes.

Visited on May 26, 2013

by arvindsd on May 28, 2013
schlagle
This is a tough hike, especially when hauling a ton of photography gear. It's well worth it though. Every part of the trail is beautiful.
Visited on Apr 03, 2013

by schlagle on Apr 17, 2013
Cubiecube
Managed to finish the trail in four and half hours with my uncle. The weather was overcast that day, which was perfect for a 10-mile hike. The trail was moist and safe, yet was challenging enough (if you have a heavy backpack on). Signs were visible and helpful. Different directions of a trail lead to different destinations, so please make sure you follow the right one. We got lost the first attempt and ended up coming back on the 2nd day, which turned out an even better hike. Park staff was very friendly and helpful. $10 for parking and a trail map. Beautiful waterfalls. Part of the trail was right by the one of the waterfalls. I will definitely go back and highly recommend this trail.
Visited on Feb 18, 2013

by Cubiecube on Feb 20, 2013
momof2dogs
one of my favorite hikes - especially in the spring when the falls are their fullest, and the forest is full of redwood sorrel and trilliums. Did it counter clock wise my last time there and enjoyed it better - seemed easier.

by momof2dogs on Jul 08, 2012
650b2
I have made this hike many times. It is an easy less than half day hike. Bring extra clothes and some food. Weather is variable
Visited on May 04, 1998

by 650b2 on May 17, 2012
btdoyle
Great hike. It is definitely a long hike with a lot of uphill climbs. Counter clockwise is the best way to go since the waterfalls go for about a quarter mile downhill along the path. I would not want to have to hike up those the other way.

It probably has closer to 2000 feet total elevation gain throughout the day. There are a number of 600-800 feet climbs you have to make it up.

Lunch by the falls is perfect and also if you want to take you time and do it overnight, there is a campground right past the top of the falls. Sunset camp is the name. You can find it on the map here: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/540/files/BigBasinRedwoodsFinalWebLayout030311.pdf

It takes about 2 hours to get there from San Francisco so it is best to take off early.

Visited on Jul 09, 2011

by btdoyle on Jul 15, 2011
ldnewman

Busted out my VFF footgloves for a nice 8 mile swagger with some friends -- consumed 4 packets of turkey jerky and one chocolate bar. Trail would be ideal for running in most areas, great waterfalls.

Visited on Apr 03, 2011

by ldnewman on Apr 25, 2011
chris
I just did this hike this past weekend with a couple of friends and had a great time. We were planning on a backpacking trip but learned that the backpacker camps didn't open until May so we were forced into just a day hike--but we picked a good one.

Part of the Skyline to the Sea trail was closed, so we headed along the Dool trail to a crossover trail where we connected to the Skyline to the Sea Trail. I HIGHLY recommend a clockwise loop because you get to look at all of the waterfalls as you approach them, rather then walking by the top and away for them and then turning back to look at them.

The trail was a bit muddy in a few parts from recent rains, but other than that not too bad, and it wasn't particularly crowded until we were almost back at the trailhead.

Visited on Apr 23, 2011

by chris on Apr 25, 2011
robzilla
Beautiful hike, one of my favorites so far. Not for beginners unless very determined because of length and amount of elevation change.
Visited on Dec 16, 2010

by robzilla on Jan 22, 2011
Luckylinda
Thanks. Good points. We'll have to try it counterclock-wise next time. We tarried quite a bit on STS, it was so beautiful. Thanks for the info.

by Luckylinda on Jul 04, 2010
tommangan
Luckylinda: Counter-clockwise is less crowded on the way in, and you see the more remote falls -- Golden Cascade and Silver Falls -- up close on fresher legs, so you're more inclined to explore. Then you can pause for lunch on the trail between those falls and Berry Creek Falls, which is quite beautiful but is more remote than the others. It's a long uphill walk on the way back, which forces you to slow down, giving more time to appreciate the redwoods. Taking Skyline-to-the-Sea downhill makes the first section of the hike more like a dash that's over before you know it.

by tommangan on Jul 04, 2010
Luckylinda
We did this hike yesterday. It was grand and highly recommended. 11 miles is a long day, however. The trail is a little tricky--there are lots of bumps on the trail--we were constantly tripping over rocks and roots that were sticking up. Our hiking poles were helpful in keeping us from falling. Curious--why do the hike counter-clockwise?

by Luckylinda on Jul 04, 2010

Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park Trail Map


POIs: numbers | icons View large Trail Map

Bring this guide with you on your phone

Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park Guide app
No sign-in hassle, get Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park Guide app and you will be all set for your trip!


View all available mobile guide apps

About the Author

tommangan
tommangan
108 guides
view tommangan's profile
Keeper of Two Heel Drive, A Hiking Blog at http://tommangan.net/twoheeldrive |

Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park 3 Day Forecast

Extended Forecast
How To Get There
Get directions from: