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Redwood Loop Trail

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

A forested loop among redwoods recovering from wildfire in California's oldest state park

Length

0.7 miles

Rated

Easy*

Trail Type

Loop

Elevation Gain

42 feet

One of the region’s easiest trails, this loop is the ideal outing for anyone seeking a self-guided or docent-led stroll among giant redwoods.

Rated “easy” by California State Parks, this 0.7-mile loop is flat, with compact ground in places and natural trails in others, with very slight elevation changes. Having recently experienced extreme wildfire, this is also a forest in recovery, and an opportunity to reflect on the resilience and majesty of the world’s largest trees in California’s oldest state park.

*Trail ratings vary and in this guide you will find information to make the best choice for your health and wellness goals.

Trails Rx

Enjoy the health benefits of time in nature on the Redwood Loop Trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Why is this a healthful experience?

Time in nature

Resting spots for contemplation

Trails Rx Benefits

Unleash the Healing Power of Nature

Trails Rx was established to help you improve your physical and mental health while enjoying time in nature. With guidance from Sempervirens Fund's Wellness Advisor, Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, we took inspiration from her work with Iowa's Hartman Reserve Nature Center.

The program promotes regular use of these trails, or parks near you, to integrate nature's healing benefits into daily life.

"Research increasingly finds that human health is improved by spending time in nature. Whether exercising, birdwatching, or spending quiet, mindful time outdoors, a host of physical and mental health benefits have been confirmed."

Volunteer Application 2024 Sempervirens Fund

Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller
MD, FACOG FABOIM Sempervirens Fund Wellness Advisor

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What Does the Data Say?

Here are ways you can measure the benefits of enjoying the Redwood Loop Trail:

Light Pace

2.5 miles per hour

Trail Length

0.7 miles

Metabolic Equivalent of Task

The amount of energy used while active compared to energy used sitting still.

3.3 METs

Time

17 minutes

Calories

Estimates vary by weight.

130 lbs

57 calories

165 lbs

73 calories

200 lbs

88 calories

235 lbs

103 calories

Moderate Pace

3.5 miles per hour

Trail Length

0.7 miles

Metabolic Equivalent of Task

The amount of energy used while active compared to energy used sitting still.

4.2 METs

Time

12 minutes

Calories

Estimates vary by weight.

130 lbs

52 calories

165 lbs

66 calories

200 lbs

80 calories

235 lbs

94 calories

Trail Benefits

Health Benefits of Unique Features along the Redwood Loop Trail

Give yourself a brain break.

When study participants walked for 90 minutes in nature, as compared to controls who walked in an urban setting, those who walked in nature reported less rumination, or the experience of getting stuck in a cycle of negative thinking. These same participants were then studied in a functional MRI machine, which found they had decreased brain activity in the areas of the brain that are active in depression—specifically sadness, behavioral withdrawal, and negative self-reflection. As you walk Big Basin’s Redwood Loop Trail, notice if your mind clears and mood shifts a bit.

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Lower your blood pressure.

Research is finding that time in nature can improve hypertension. One small study compared individuals with hypertension who spent seven days and seven nights in an evergreen forest versus those who spent the same amount of time in a city environment. Those who spent time in the forest environment showed a significant reduction in blood pressure compared to the city group.

Another study looked at a one-day forest therapy program for individuals with hypertension that involved stretching, strolling, sitting and lying on the ground, deep breathing, lying in a hammock, and other non-strenuous activities in the forest. The participants were found to have significantly lower blood pressure during the one-day forest therapy program than they had had during the five days prior to the program. This decrease was maintained at three and five days after the program. It’s interesting to know that the health benefits from time in the redwoods can last beyond the time we spend among them.

Immune boost.

Time in nature boosts the immune system in ways that are still being explored. For example, we know that simply inhaling “phytoncides,” a component in the essential oils from trees, has been found to boost our level and activity of Natural Killer immune cells that circulate in our bloodstream to attack viruses, bacteria, and even tumor cells. Research has found that this benefit lasts for as long as thirty days out from a nature experience, so make it at least a monthly goal to visit the trails!

References: https://doi.org/10.1080/08923970600809439 and https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3.

See more below in our Invitations section for suggestions to maximize this experience.

A trail through redwoods along the Redwood Loop Trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
Invitations

Body and Mind Contemplation

We believe each place has the potential to reward our senses and bring us peace and mindfulness. In the practice of Shinrin-yoku, or Forest Bathing, invitations are prompts we can give ourselves to invite an inward response to the nature we are experiencing. In this section we offer invitations you might respond to in your experience visiting the Redwood Loop Trail.

Pleasures of Presence

For these invitations sit, stand, or rest comfortably against something solid and close your eyes or lower them to the ground.

Rest comfortably and slowly breathe, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice the air: the fragrance, the temperature, and the moisture.

Invitations for the Redwood Loop Trail

Often, we avert our eyes and mind from the deceased. But consider taking a closer look at signs of death and decay in the forest. Use all your senses to see, smell, touch (if it feels safe) and explore such things as deceased insects and animals, forest floor debris, mushrooms, fungi, and plants or leaves with damage. What is happening in these processes? What emotions arise? Is there a message for you here?

You might spend some time jotting down or journaling what you noticed during this experience.

Learn more about Forest Bathing and check out a longer list of invitations to consider.

About the Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, located in the Santa Cruz mountains, draws visitors from all around the world. The park’s 4,650 acres offer impressive 360-degree views of surrounding mountains and Monterey Bay, and a diversity of habitats but it is best known for its 40-acre grove of old-growth redwood trees which launched a movement. A visit to this ancient redwood grove, by photographer Andrew P. Hill, more than a century ago helped launch the Sempervirens Club (now, Sempervirens Fund) and the redwood preservation movement.

What The Park Offers

Accessibility

Parking Lot

Seating benches

Drinking fountains

Restrooms

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Getting There

Know before you go: Visit the trail page for the latest updates.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The park is located on Highway 236 in Boulder Creek.

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