Sunday, February 24th: Meteor Trail Loop Hike at Big Basin State Park


Remnants of logging activity linger many decades in Big Basin.

Sunday, February 24th: a moderate 6-mile loop w/ 400+ feet elev. gain

Meet: 10:30 a.m.
Hike: 10:45 a.m.
Approximate hike duration: 3-4 hours
How to attend: Click the Join button on this Facebook event* or reply in the Comments section of this post.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Visitors Center
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, CA
(831) 338-8860

Walking the Meteor Trail Loop is a fine way to wander among the giants at Big Basin Redwoods State Park without the crowds on the more popular trails. In Winter and early Spring, the surrounding creeks burble to life, making the Meteor Trail one of the best riparian hikes at Big Basin. And on clear days, Ocean View Summit from Middle Ridge Road offers an expansive view from over 1800 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

We’ll probably arrive at the spur trail to Ocean View Summit before we know it. After many a lingering gaze, we’ll then head south, returning via the Dool, Creeping Forest, and Skyline-to-the-Sea Trails to where we started at Park Headquarters.

After the hike, we have the option of tasting the wines of Cinnabar Winery at their tasting room in downtown Saratoga, back along our return route to Highway 280.

From the SF peninsula, take Hwy 280 to Sunnyvale/Saratoga Road. Turn south toward the hills and drive 5 miles to Saratoga and Hwy 9. Turn right at Hwy 9 and drive up the hill for 7 miles to Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35). Continue over the other side of Skyline along Highway 9 about 7 more miles to Highway 236. Turn right and drive about 10 miles to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. We’ll start our hike at the Visitors Center.

From Cupertino: Let’s meet at 8:15 a.m. at Coffee Society, located at 21265 Stevens Creek Blvd, opposite De Anza College. We’ll leave at 8:30 sharp. The merchants have posted a number of signs warning “non-customers” not to park their cars in the plaza parking lot. So, please park on N. Mary Avenue behind Oaks Plaza. If you plan to meet at this carpool, please share a note with your R.S.V.P.

For those of you arriving from The City or elsewhere, please contact others near you to arrange carpooling. Thanks!

A $10 day-use fee is charged per vehicle at Big Basin; trails maps are $3 at the Visitors Center. Drive time from San Jose may take 75-90 minutes; from SF, perhaps 30 minutes longer. Please allow adequate time to arrive by 10:30; our hike will begin promptly at 10:45.

Parking is usually adequate at the park’s main parking lot adjacent to the Big Basin Visitor Center. Nevertheless, I urge hikers to please carpool if possible (see above). Dogs are not allowed on this hike.

Be sure to bring plenty of snacks/lunch items and water for the trail. I highly recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes – even clothing – to change into after the hike. Please allow plenty of time to arrive, and watch for cyclists during your drive.

Also, wear sturdy boots for this hike – we may be hiking over rough terrain in places, and sections of muddy trail will likely present themselves.

The phone number above is for Big Basin State Park.

*A few days prior to this hike, I will share my cell phone number with all people who RSVP either by clicking the Join button on the Facebook page for this event or have commented on this post.  (If you and I are not Facebook friends, hit me up at

Meet 10:30 a.m., hike 10:45 sharp.

See you at the Visitor Center!


P.S. This event is listed on my 2013 Schedule of Hikes.


Why I love redwood trees

Sequoia sempervirens. May it embrace many skies.

Sequoia sempervirens. May it embrace many skies.

Whether cool and breezy in mid-Autumn or hot and sticky in late Spring to mid-Summer, the heavy shade of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is often welcome to hiker and mountain biker alike. That shade is largely due to the untold populations of redwood trees that dominate the area, though Bigleaf Maples also do their share to offer mercy from the sun.

While beautiful and stately, the redwoods in this forest are often no more than 100 years old. As one walks steadily up the former railroad grade that is Aptos Creek Trail, one can only imagine what this forest may have looked like in the mid-19th century. That was before these trees’ massive forebears were harvested for the burgeoning lumber needs of San Francisco, Santa Clara Valley, and other local coastal hamlets.

Fortunately there are still first-growth redwoods nearby at Henry Cowell and Big Basin Redwoods state parks. These are Nature’s living cathedrals, and they are destinations in which I lead hikes a few times every year.


Because those old matriarchs are worth seeing. Because everyone owes themselves a moment of Nature’s living grandeur. Because they’re there.

Because I love knowing that they’re there.

Though I might have the disposition for it, I don’t, however, hug redwood trees. That is, not unless I’ve got a set of fine tweezers and a lot of time to kill.

See related trip report: Nisene Marks State Park & Burrell School Vineyards.


Big Basin Bobcat

Bobcat tracks in clay.

Bobcat tracks in clay.

The trails of the Bay Area offer a real treat in Winter. As storm systems pass, there are often a few days of clear weather that provide the freshest air one can breathe as one walks the coastal hills.I led a group of hikers at Big Basin State Park for a 6-mile hike through stately redwoods to a ridgetop. Upon our descent, we beheld Nature’s finest shades of blue — the brilliant clear sky, the ridges of the coast, and the deepest blue of them all — the Pacific Ocean. From our vantage point, the view to its horizon appeared as an optical illusion, as if it were above our heads.

It was a view worth savoring. Nearer to us, however, one of our sharp-eyed crew spied the tracks of a bobcat, which had worked its way downtrail ahead of us. It might have been searching for rabbits or rodents, but quite possibly it was after deer, which they’ll hunt in winter months when other food is scarce. The tracks I had seen moments earlier, being small-hooved and traveling in the same direction, suggested a young Black-Tail — easy to spot in the trail mud after the recent rains, and easy prey for a hungry bobcat.

In my trail haunts over the years, I’ve sometimes encountered wild cats. It can feel as if you’re whistling past the graveyard when a predator makes eye contact with you. But it’s a safe bet that a bobcat will turn and run, leaving you with nothing but a fleeting dash of yellow-brown fur, a blip of a tail, and a story to tell. What I find interesting about bobcats is that they’re highly adaptable to changes in environmental conditions. Some biologists even believe that there are more bobcats in the United States today than there were in colonial times. Despite their rare and elusive nature, that could be reason alone why I’ve seen them at all.

Bobcats: rarely seen, even more rarely photographed.

Bobcats: rarely seen, even more rarely photographed.

I like to stop and admire the comings and goings of Nature. If I loiter long enough, there’s often a story hidden there, waiting to be unveiled. These simple natural phenomena are my connection to the real adventure that so many of us seem blind to. I’m rewarded then, when my fellow hikers take the cue and, before we know it, we’ve gained honest memories — memories that make us want to don our boots and return to savor them anew.