The Blooms Creek Loop
Length 2.8 miles Climbing 360 feet
This one-hour loop hike passes through streamside forest and the Blooms Creek campground before climbing up a hillside and descending through redwood-lined ravines on the East Ridge Trail. The hike winds up with some big redwoods on the Skyline-Hinh Hammond Connector Trail.
The beginning and end of this hike features some very scenic and very big lowland redwoods. In between, on the East Ridge Trail, are old-growth redwood uplands that would be considered extraordinary if they were in any other park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but here in Big Basin they're kind of dull. Nonetheless the East Ridge Trail is at least as nice as the more popular Creeping Forest Trail and not as hilly.
Access the Blooms Creek Trail by walking south on the Redwood Loop as far as the Mother of the Forest tree. The Redwood Loop passes a meadow that offers nice views of the large redwoods on the other side. At the Mother of the Forest tree, a the roadside trail branches off and continues south, passing some more good-size redwoods. Turn right into the Blooms Creek Campground, which is the most scenic campground in the park, with many large redwoods scattered among the campsites. Over the past half-century state and national park policies have turned against providing campgrounds in old-growth forests, and this end of the campground is one of the very few places where you can still camp among big old-growth redwoods. Parts of the campground seem a little crowded, however.
After passing through the campground, you'll see a large footbridge to your left that crosses Blooms Creek. At this point you can shorten the hike by continuing straight on the paved road, crossing the auto bridge, and turning right onto the Skyline-Hinh Hammond Connector. This is not a bad option if you're just out for a short stroll, since the shortened 1.6-mile loop includes all the best redwoods and none of the hill climbing of the longer 2.8-mile hike.
To take the full hike, cross the footbridge and turn left onto the Blooms Creek trail. The redwoods are much smaller on this side of the creek, where the land begins to rise up from Big Basin's alluvial flat. The trail follows the creek for a while, offering views of some big redwoods around the creek. It climbs through dense tanoak before ending at a paved road that's part of the campground. Turn left onto the road.
A dirt road beginning at the end of the campground road leads to the East Ridge Trail. At first the trail climbs through redwood-free woods, but then it curves around and climbs steeply through a ravine dotted with redwoods. Crossing the ravine, the trail reaches a ridge, bears left, and starts to descend. On its descent the trail winds around several ravines dotted with moderately-sized redwoods. The forest looks dry here, with a lot of huckleberry and tanoak but almost no ground cover. The dense tanoak prevents any really good views of the redwoods.
The East Ridge Trail ends at a road intersection where two auto bridges cross Opal Creek. The Skyline-Hinh Hammond Connector Trail begins after the second bridge and leads along the creek to the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. The lowland forest along this trail is much more scenic than the highlands of the East Ridge Trail, with less tanoak, larger redwoods, and the cool, quiet atmosphere typical of pure redwood forests. The redwoods get progressively larger and the forest more scenic as the trail approaches the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. Across the creek, some of the impressive redwoods around the Redwood Nature Trail are also visible.
Turn onto the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail; look for the exceptionally large (and unmarked) Santa Clara Tree to your right as you approach the footbridge that crosses Opal Creek.
© 2005, 2008 David Baselt