Sequoia and Shadowbrook
Loop hike including Sempervirens Falls
Length 4.7 miles Climbing 320 ft
This route starts off among very attractive redwoods and continues through old-growth forest for its entire length, but the scenery gradually declines throughout the hike. As a result the route can be a bit disappointing, although since it passes by many of Big Basin's campgrounds it tends to be popular. The Sequoia/Skyline route includes some of the same trails but makes a much more satisfying hike.
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 curves around to follow Lodge Road and eventually passes through Wastahi Campground, which is located in a grove that has unfortunately been partially logged. Judging from the stumps and the remaining trees, it used to be a very attractive grove. The scenery is actually a little better along Lodge Road; especially around the entrance to Huckleberry Campground, some impressive redwoods can be seen from the road.
Continuing past the campground, the trail passes through another partially-logged grove that has been the site of a forest fire.
The sound of pouring 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. The falls can be a bit of a disappointment, although before the park cordoned the area off it was probably a great swimming hole.
Back on the trail, continue a short distance to reach Slippery Rock. Continue straight, past Slippery Rock, and cross Lodge Road. The trail climbs a small hill, passing through a grove of large redwoods that completely lacks ground cover before leveling out at the entrance to the Sky Meadow Group Camp. After this point the trail gets very faint; if you get lost, just return to the group camp entrance and walk along the paved access road until you see the signed trail to your left.
The trail remains faint for a bit longer as it descends into a small canyon, but soon joins up with an old dirt road that passes through the canyon. Somewhat disconcertingly, the trail/road is studded every hundred yards or so with manhole covers. The dirt road continues until you reach a large footbridge to Huckleberry Camp. After this, the trail becomes singletrack again and passes through an area of mid-sized redwoods with a very dense huckleberry and tanoak understory.
Turn right at the Bob Kirsch trail to cross an extravagant bridge, then climb up to Lodge Road. Cross the road and follow the Sequoia Trail back to park headquarters.
© 2007 David Baselt