“Warning. Strenuous Hike” warned the sign at the beginning of our expedition into the mists of Berry Creek Falls. This was the first sign that greeted us after Brian, Nicole and I, as well as our honorary teammate Kevin Yoshimoto trekked down to Big Basin on a cloudy Saturday morning. On our way down, the weather had quietly gradated from cloudy, to an ominous grey cloak of low floating clouds. By the time we had reached the trail head, it was steadily raining. But weather be damned! The Grizzly Three, as well as about ten other Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT) interns, managers and various hikers excitedly filled water bottles and munched on Cliff bars, impervious to the rain falling around us.
The Berry Creek Falls trail is nestled snug inside of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California’s oldest State Park, located about 20 miles northwest of Santa Cruz. The 10.5 mile trail covers a variety of the park’s habitats, as well as featuring beautiful views, both scenic and up close and personal, of four waterfalls. On this particular hike, we chose to cover the Skyline to the Sea/Sunset Trail loop, which would bring us right back to where we started, while getting to see and experience the widest range of scenery.
The first several miles of the hike took us alongside a pleasant babbling brook, through some of the lushest forest I have had the pleasure of traversing. The strong cover of the immense, old growth redwood forest kept us fairly dry, with a strong mist permeating the air. We quickly reached the first waterfall, known as Cascade falls, and took breaks to load up our cameras with snapshots and our bodies with snacks.
The next segment of the hike found us climbing upward through more lush greenery and muddy trail, pointing out the incredibly numerous banana slug population that had come out to feast on the accumulating dew. About halfway through our total mileage, we found ourselves at the Golden falls, which quickly drops down into the Silver falls, each aptly named for the shimmery ambiance the reflecting water creates. We stopped here for lunch, some quick exploration, and of course plenty of photo ops.
Continuing on, we found ourselves climbing a bit higher and emerging from the most dense part of the forest through rocky outlooks. By now the rain had subsided and the clouds had parted, making way for glorious rays of sunshine. As we traversed the trail, we climbed across logs and over stumps, snaking our way through towering redwoods. Up and down, up and down, the Berry Creek Falls trail was an excellent taste of a variety of hiking conditions. While the unrelenting uphill of our first training hike gave us a good, albeit short, taste of climbing, this trail was our first foray into hiking amongst the elements. Lucky for us, we all relished in the rain and I can’t wait to see what a Mt. Olympus throws at us.