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Length 14 miles
Time 4 hours
Total Climb 2350 feet
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Big Basin

Considering how large Big Basin Redwoods State Park is, it's a little surprising how few opportunities it provides in terms of trail ride loops. The mystery diminishes when you realize that bikes are not allowed on singletrack trails in the park. Only the fire roads are bike-legal. This particular ride even includes a big chunk of paved roads in the mix. That's mostly okay, though, since traffic on the paved roads in this park (with the exception of Route 236) is almost non-existent.

Under these conditions, you may not expect this ride to be particularly interesting in terms of mountain biking, and you'd be correct. However, one thing about Big Basin that is not true about too many other parks in the Bay Area is its remoteness. If you'd be interested in doing a ride in something more closely approximating a true wilderness without requiring any suspension of disbelief while there's a town over the next ridge or a housing development at the top of the hill or anything, you might like this ride.

The ride starts from the park's headquarters area, initially on pavement. You might notice that there is a part near the beginning where the GPS track attempts to follow a trail alongside the road, but it didn't turn out to be a viable trail that's legal. Stay on the road instead.

The first point of interest you encounter along the ride is the small Sempervirens Falls. You'll see a very short connector trail departing on the right-hand side of the road to reach a viewing spot for the falls, about 2 miles from the beginning of the ride.

You'll leave the pavement when you turn onto East Ridge Road, but that's only temporary. You'll be back on pavement when you reach China Grade, and won't leave it permanently behind until you start your way down Middle Ridge Road.

Another spot worth a stop comes at Ocean View Summit. If you allow the name of the place to set your expectations though, you'll be sorely disappointed. While this area is devoid of tree cover and there is a small patch of an elevated viewing area, you'll need a telescope to see any significant amount of the ocean from here, not to mention some very cooperative coastal weather. Still, it's not a bad idea to look around from there to get your bearings and to stretch your legs. A brighter spot is that the part of the route around Ocean View Summit also happens to be the only part of the ride where the trail becomes anything resembling technical, due to the bare rock surfaces that start to predominate in this brief section.

The return to the parking lot after that point is a piece of cake, since it's all downhill; although it's not any special fun either (if you don't count the nice forest setting), because it's all on wide fire roads.

© Ergin Guney


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