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’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.
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.
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.
In the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount McAbee stands 1,880 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.
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.