This is one of the favorite Big Basin hikes: It starts on the legendary Redwood Trail near the park headquarters, heads over to Blooms Creek Campground and zigags up the Pine Mountain Trail -- leaving the redwood forest completely for awhile -- then culminating with a steep scramble to a rocky overlook.
All in just over two miles one way. You can see pretty much all the remarkable diversity of Big Basin (except the waterfalls) along this route.
Trails used: Redwood Trail > Pine Mountain Road > Pine Mountain Trail.
Best time to go: Winter, when the skies are clearest, offers impressive vistas looking out over Big Basin and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Summer will probably be too warm, but spring and fall will be fine.
Wear sturdy shoes with plenty of tread: the trail gets pretty rugged near the top.
Watch for banana slugs but don't touch them; contact with human skin is hazardous to their health.
Bring enough water and snacks to keep your energy up on the climb up to Buzzard's Roost.
Big Basin contact: 831-338-8860
Parking fees: $10/vehicle
Dogs: Not allowed on trails
Driving directions: Take Highway 17 south to Mount Hermon Road. Stay on this road as it goes through the city of Scotts Valley. Mount Hermon Road ends at an intersection with Graham Hill Road. Turn right. You will immediately come to another lighted intersection (Highway 9). Turn right again. Take California Highway 9 to Boulder Creek and head west on Highway 236 for nine miles to the park entrance; continue to park headquarters.