When you're a parent, especially of children five and under, hiking is an activity you push aside thinking of the hassles and the dangers that may come your way. Add to that the burden of those mom bags (crammed with snacks, diapers and extra set of clothes among other things) and the thought that the little one(s) just might demand to be carried half way through the trail. When you are at this stage of life, you often find yourself wishing for a trail that is toddler-friendly, better still if it is stroller-friendly.
Hark! Moms and Dads-- if you have little children you would love to take on a hike, or are looking for a place to introduce your young ones to hiking, here's a tried and tested hiking suggestion:
Trail --The Redwood Loop Trail
Place -- Big Basin State Park, (Santa Cruz County) California
Distance -- Half mile
Time needed -- 45 minutes to 1 hour
Best part -- it is stroller friendly (wheelchair friendly too)
A few months ago we were at Big Basin. It was our second trip there; the first one with an energetic preschooler who could do with some physical activity. Initially our plan for day was to drive up to Big Basin gaze at the super tall coastal redwoods that this place is blessed with, have a picnic lunch, stroll around a little bit and drive back home.
However, when we walked up to the registration center, we found ourselves looking for other family-friendly things to do in Big Basin. The person who manned the counter thought the Redwood Loop Trail might be perfect for us, as the path was pretty wide and it would be great for kids to run about. He also promised that we would see some of the tallest trees of the park. We decided to give it a try. After a visit to the museum and a lunch we set out on what would be our little one's very first hike.
The Redwood Trail began just left of the entry to the parking lot and was marked with a tall red pillar. There were smaller stumps with numbers on them that marked the way as we walked into the wilderness and out of sight of the other visitors. It was a walk to be one with nature; to look about and above and see the towering coastal redwoods, listen to the sounds of the wilderness and take in the damp forest floors. We saw some tree trunks wrapped in rich lichen and listened to the gurgling of water from the streams -- some visible and some hidden among the thick wild brush.
At one point we even heard a woodpecker and strained our necks trying to spot it; this was our golden opportunity to show the preschooler the bird and what it did best. After what seemed like five minutes and walking around a bend or two of the trail, I finally spotted the little bird perched high up on the trunk going Tuck, Tuck, Tuck!
The Redwood Loop Trail showed us some trees that stood out from the rest: some extra tall, some partly charred yet very much alive-and-kicking, some with hollows, and one without a top even. Then there were some of those trees that are prime landmarks of the park -- like the Father of the Forest and Mother of the Forest.
By the end of the half mile hike I was convinced that the Redwood Loop Trail, categorized among the 'easy hikes' of Big Basin was one of the best places for a hike with small children.
NOTE: Big Basin does have several other trails. A couple of easy ones, and some moderate and strenuous hikes too. Some have waterfalls and ocean overlooks on the way and there's one trail that goes all the way down to a beach on the Pacific Ocean. The lengthiest one is a 12.5 mile/20km (one-way) trail.
Other posts on Redwood destinations in CA: