"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.
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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