BOULDER CREEK — California State Parks announced that four miles of newly renovated roads and trails inside the fire-scarred Big Basin Redwoods State Park reopened to the public Friday.
“We are pushing to reopen fire-damaged trail segments in Big Basin as they are safely reconstructed and look forward to welcoming more visitors in 2023,” said California State Parks Superintendent Chris Spohrer. “These newly opened trails offer a novel window to witness the remarkable recovery of the ancient forest.”
Hikers will now have access to portions of the Meteor Trail, a one-mile segment of Skyline to the Sea Trail, and a dog-friendly access along the first mile of North Escape Road. The expanded trail use also gives hikers access along a portion of Opal Creek and up Middle Ridge Road to Ocean View Summit. The first mile of the Sunset Trail is currently being reconstructed and is expected to open in January.
“Big Basin is thriving and opening more trails is a great gift in a remarkable year of progress at California’s oldest state park,” said Sempervirens Fund Executive Director Sara Barth. “This milestone is a testament to the diligence and commitment of California State Parks, partner organizations, donors, volunteers and the community supporting the park’s future and the forest’s recovery from wildfire.”
Since Big Basin’s Redwood Loop and the Dool Trail opened over the summer, visitors that drive to Big Basin are required to use an online parking reservation system developed and managed by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.
“We’re committed to supporting new ways to grow public access at Big Basin, and we’re proud to partner with State Parks on this program,” said Bonny Hawley, executive director of Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. “Big Basin has come a long way in less than five months since the park reopened.”
Although the number of parking spaces has doubled to about 100 since the park reopened in July, spaces are still limited. Those who want to check out the newly reopened trails will be required to book an online reservation in advance. The parking fee is $6 per vehicle with an additional $2 reservation fee. No reservations are needed for visitors who don’t need to park a vehicle.
Big Basin’s old-growth redwood forest is recovering from the CZU Lightning Complex fire, which burned for 37 days starting in August 2020, and decimated 18,000 acres inside the park boundary. Visitors to the park’s newly renovated trails will see the forest’s recovery process firsthand and might even catch a glimpse of returning wildlife such as deer, coyotes and foxes, among others.
“The newly opened trails offer visitors more ways to explore the amazing regrowth happening since the CZU Fire in 2020,” said Hawley. “We’re looking forward to welcoming many more visitors in 2023.”
Trail crews continue to rebuild and remove hazards along trails and aim to open some additional trail segments by summer 2023. Services remain limited within the park. There is no cellphone coverage, running water, or electricity.
To view a map detailing the new trail access, visit Big Basin Redwoods State Park webpage.