Ken inside the huge coast redwood called the Mother of the Forest near the park headquarters

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California was established in 1902 and is the oldest state park in California. The main attraction of the park is its extremely large redwood trees. Visitors can see the largest ones by taking a short loop trail near the park headquarters. Readily accessible from a major urban center (the San Francisco Bay Area), the park is easy to get to and you can meet people from all over the world who come to wonder at the amazing redwood specimens in the park.

The coast redwood or Sequoia sempervirens is the the world's tallest tree. One tree in Del Norte County in northern California was measured at 367.8 feet in the mid-1970s. This tree has since lost about ten feet due to age and weathering, and a tree near Ukiah, the Mendocino Tree, has usurped the roll as world's tallest tree topping off at 367.5 feet. That's over 550 banana slugs tall! You can see this tree in Montgomery Woods State Reserve. Do not confuse this redwood with the denizen of the Sierra Nevada—the giant sequoia or Sequoiadendron giganteum which is the largest of trees. Specimens of giant sequoia can be seen at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park as well as other areas in the Sierra Nevada. Big Basin not only has redwoods but many other plant species such as tanoak, oxalis, ferns, and miners lettuce, and interesting animal species such as mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, squirrels, California newts... and, yes, we have banana slugs.

For avid hikers, the micro climates of the Bay Area can be used to great advantage. In the late summer and early fall when the central valley is baking and the Diablo Range is like the interior of a food dehydrator, the wiser amongst us go hiking in the redwood forests along the coast. Big Basin is chief among these parks where walking beneath its redwood forest canopy is like being in a cool cavern. It's a great way to cool off from the heat of the inland areas.

The redwood forest, though, is not the best place to see wildlife. Visibility at Big Basin, for instance, is not as good as a park with grassland and other wide-open spaces such as Henry Coe Park. Also, the redwood forest ecosystem is not as kind to the cervid, canine, feline, etc. as would be a park with more grassland. So much of the biomass of this ecosystem is tied up in the trees themselves.

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