Sempervirens Falls

A short out-and-back hike from the visitor center

Length 3.4 miles • Climbing 130 ft
California > San Francisco Bay Area > Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Sempervirens Falls, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Sempervirens Falls

Park rangers often recommend this popular hike to visitors who are looking for a one-hour outing. The hike is short, more or less level, and there's a little waterfall at the end. The trail also has some outstanding redwoods, though mostly at the beginning.

The biggest drawback of this hike is that the trail runs alongside Lodge Road for most of the way. The road isn't very busy, but its presence gives the trail a utilitarian feel, as if it's only there to get you to the falls, and makes it harder to appreciate the scenery. Given that they're only separated by a few yards, the only reason to walk on the trail rather than the road is safety; it's a lot easier to walk on the road, and a lot of people do. In fact, the scenery is actually a little better on the road; especially around the entrance to Huckleberry Campground, some impressive redwoods can be seen from the road but not the trail.

Map of the Sempervirens Falls hike in 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, 2015)

Hike description

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

Starting from park headquarters, walk south along the road a short distance to reach the trailhead. The Sequoia Trail starts with some top-notch redwood scenery, climbing gently through a grove of large stately trees. In the distance, you can catch glimpses of redwoods rising majestically into the sky. This exceptional scenery continues for about a third of a mile, then, immediately after passing a side trail to Jay Camp, the redwoods become more mundane. It's still attractive old growth, though. The trail gradually curves around to follow Lodge Road.

You'll see a lot of redwood stumps as the trail enters Wastahi Campground. Redwood parks often put their campgrounds in logged groves to save wear and tear on the old growth; the result, unfortunately, is somewhat dismal-looking campgrounds. The trail briefly joins the Wastahi Campground parking lot, then enters the much nicer northern half of the campground, which seems to be unlogged and includes some choice campsites among large redwoods. Just after leaving the campground you enter a second partially-logged grove that's been burned recently and lacks the usual tanoak or huckleberry understory. The openness of this grove makes it easier to appreciate the redwoods.

The Sequoia Trail, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Near the beginning of the Sequoia Trail

The sound of rushing water announces that you're approaching Sempervirens Falls. Take the well-marked spur trail downhill, cross the road, and descend a series of steps to reach a viewing platform. Next to the platform, Sempervirens Creek pours over a 10-foot-high ledge and into a deep pool in a little grotto.

Return the way you came.

More information

The Sequoia Trail near Wastahi Campground, with Lodge Road visible at left



© 2007, 2013 David Baselt