The Creeping Forest Loop


Length 2.5 miles • Climbing 500 feet
California > San Francisco Bay Area > Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Leaning redwoods on the Creeping Forest Trail, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Redwoods on the Creeping Forest Trail, leaning because of seismic activity

The Creeping Forest Trail climbs to an upland redwood grove partway up Middle Ridge. This area — the part of Middle Ridge opposite Park Headquarters — tends to be somewhat mundane-looking, with small redwoods and a dense huckleberry understory that hides the trees. However, tucked into a bowl partway up the ridge is a little grove that's relatively open and that has some pretty good-sized redwoods.

The grove isn't the most spectacular in the area (the nearby Sunset-Skyline short loop passes through two upland groves that are both much more interesting) and if you're not looking for it you might miss it. Nontheless the Creeping Forest loop is quite popular, because it's conveniently located and not too challenging. In a few minutes' walk it leaves the commotion of the visitor's center area behind and meanders pleasantly through richly green woodland.

Map of the Creeping Forest and Dool Trails, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Click map to show all trails and roads
Part of the Bay Area Trail Map: Big Basin and Castle Rock (Redwood Hikes Press, 2013)

Hike description

Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps or in Google Street View.

From park headquarters, cross Opal Creek and turn right onto the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail. The trail runs alongside the burbling creek and passes some huge trees before descending slightly to Gazos Creek Road. After crossing the road, the trail climbs a few yards to the intersection with the Creeping Forest Trail. Turn left onto this trail, which winds up a hillside, passing through a pleasant mixed-species forest with an especially dense understory of huckleberry shrubs. The redwoods quickly get a lot smaller as the trail climbs, and the understory hides what redwoods there are.

Redwoods on the Creeping Forest Trail, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The grove at the top of the Creeping Forest Trail has some pretty good-sized trees

The trail crosses a small ridge and descends into the bowl mentioned above, passing through a patch of forest that doesn't have any redwoods at all and bottoming out at a T intersection. The trail to the left is a short spur leading to Gazos Creek Road. Turn right, and the trail begins to climb again. The understory thins as the trail climbs. As the trail reaches its highest point, the hillside nearly levels out, the huckleberry almost disappears, and some good-sized redwoods appear. At the start of the grove are a lot of really tiny trees, perhaps the result of a forest fire.

The woods become much denser again as the trail starts descending. This forest is classic redwood upland, drier, more scraggly, and less attractive than the lower elevations, especially in summer. The trail crosses a log bridge that can be precariously slippery when wet.

As the trail descends, it passes through a grove where the soil has slid downhill due to earthquakes. As a result the large trees are all leaning in the same direction, while the many small trees are leaning haphazardly against each other.

The Dool Trail, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The Dool Trail

After passing another short spur trail to Gazos Creek Road, the trail climbs a few yards to a T junction with the Dool Trail. Turn left, cross Gazos Creek Road, and continue downhill on the Dool Trail. This trail follows a redwood-lined ravine. Increasingly large redwoods are visible through the dense huckleberry as you descend.

At the bottom of the Dool Trail, turn right and take the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail back to park headquarters. Or, turn left to reach Gazos Creek Road, then take North Escape Road back to headquarters. The road passes through an attractive grove of large redwoods known as the Stanford Group.

The Stanford Group of redwoods, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The Stanford Group, North Escape Road


 

© 2005, 2010, 2013 David Baselt