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Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The Original California State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park spans more than 22,500 acres of high chaparral slopes, waterfalls, canyons, and marshes in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and is home to the largest stand of old-growth redwoods south of San Francisco. In 1902 it became California’s first State Park.

At the turn of the century, in response to frantic redwood logging, a group of concerned citizens met at Slippery Rock, along the banks of Sempervirens Creek to form the Sempervirens Club. The Club raised money to advocate for the State of California to purchase the park’s original 3,800 acres in 1900, and a movement was born.

In August and September 2020, the CZU Lightening Fire Complex burned more than 86,000 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is one of the many parks that has been affected. Although the majority of Big Basin Redwoods State Park is currently closed due to damage caused by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires until further notice, a portion of the Rancho del Oso area will be reopened as of May 29, 2021. Sempervirens Fund is working with California State Parks to help support the immediate and long-term needs of the Park. You can read more about redwoods recovery and restoration here and throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. Until all of the park can open safely again, you can share your Big Basin Memories with us and park visitors from around the globe who experienced the majesty of its redwoods.

Big Basin is the Heart of the Region’s Parks

Sempervirens Fund’s legacy is rooted in Big Basin, and extends to many nearby parks and destinations. Sempervirens Fund has expanded Big Basin State Park since 1900, purchasing an additional 75 properties and protecting an additional 17,000 acres. As the park has grown, so has the movement to preserve the region’s magnificent natural habitats.

Over the years, nearby parks have been established, and through careful conservation planning and partnerships, are now linked to Big Basin. Nearby parks include Año Nuevo State Park and Castle Rock State Park, which is connected to Big Basin by the magnificent Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. When natural lands are protected and connected, they increase recreational opportunities, improve wildlife habitat and corridors, and increase the entire landscape's resilience to climate change. Here are some of the key lands Sempervirens Fund supporters have preserved forever in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park area:

Camp Hammer

Camp Hammer’s nearly 100 acres of redwood forests next to Big Basin Redwoods State Park were protected with a conservation easement in 1991 so it’s biological resources and recreation opportunities can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Eagle Rock

At 2,488 feet above sea level, Eagle Rock on Ben Lomond Mountain is the highest point in its neighborhood of the Santa Cruz Mountains. In 1983, Sempervirens Fund supporters preserved 79 acres with unique rock outcroppings and rare, endemic Santa Cruz cypress on Eagle Rock. The view from this former wildfire lookout is considered well worth the 1,400 foot climb up the trail to see it. Eagle Rock can be enjoyed for generations to come in Little Basin.

Eagle Rock and the old fire lookout tower by Scott Peden.

Last Chance

Almost 300 acres of redwood forests in the region of the Santa Cruz Mountains known as Last Chance, for its namesake creek, road, and the rural community near Davenport, have been protected to expand Big Basin Redwoods State Park since 1978.

Little Basin

Little Basin’s 535 acres of coast redwoods and scenic woodlands right next to Big Basin Redwoods State Park were purchased by Sempervirens Fund and Peninsula Open Space Trust from Hewlett Packard in 2007. Today, Little Basin is officially part of the state park providing campgrounds, picnic areas, and miles of hiking trails that connect to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Big Basin Mount McAbee Overlook by Vlad Karpinsky

Mount McAbee

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount McAbee stands1,880 feet high over the towering redwood-filled Big Basin. Sempervirens Club supporters preserved the mountain’s first 160-acres in 1924 for Big Basin Redwoods State Park. In 1968, Sempervirens Club members renewed their charter and changed the organization’s name to Sempervirens Fund in response to new development proposals which threatened serious ecological damage to the Waddell Creek Watershed, Big Basin’s ecosystem, and the entire region. While working to protect the watershed and Big Basin, they preserved another 365-acres on Mount McAbee and created Castle Rock State Park. Today, Mount McAbee, and much of the land viewed from its Overlook out to Waddell Beach and the Pacific Ocean, are protected in Big Basin Redwoods State Park for people and wildlife to enjoy forever.

Rancho Del Oso Nature and History Center

In 1976, Sempervirens Fund supporters preserved 1,581-acres for Big Basin Redwoods State Park including part of the Hoover Ranch which is now the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center and extended the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail to the Pacific Ocean at Waddell State Beach. In 1985, Sempervirens Fund added 50 more acres to the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center. The Rancho Del Oso Nature and History Center interprets the diversity of habitats in this part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park as it transitions from Redwood forests to put to the Pacific Ocean.  Although closed for damage caused by the 2020 CZU Lightning Fires, both Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center buildings survived and are the only educational buildings left standing in Big Basin State Park.

Rancho Del Oso Nature & History Center by Ameet Zavari

Road to the Redwoods

The now well-traveled entrance to Big Basin Redwoods State Park went through privately owned properties until Sempervirens Fund supporters preserved three properties totaling more than 33-acres of land leading into the park known as the “Road to the Redwoods” from 1988 to 1989. Sempervirens Fund continues to protect and connect land near Big Basin to support healthy forests, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities for people to experience the majestic redwoods and wildlands of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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