register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Big Basin Berry Creek Falls McAbee Loop, CA

45 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Bay Area
4 of 5 by 2
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 9.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 966 feet
Elevation Gain 1,300 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.6
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
20  2016-04-23
Skyline to the Sea
20  2016-03-19
Skyline to the Sea
3  2015-11-27 Lucyan
15  2014-08-09
Skyline to the Sea
11  2011-12-31 JimmyLyding
16  2011-12-31 rdavisiii
Author JimmyLyding
author avatar Guides 109
Routes 335
Photos 4,221
Trips 568 map ( 3,575 miles )
Age 45 Male Gender
Location Walnut Creek, CA
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Oct, Jun, Sep, Jul → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:52am - 6:14pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Classic hike to Berry Creek Falls
by JimmyLyding

Likely In-Season!
The hike to Berry Creek Falls is the classic hike in spectacular Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Most guide books have a Berry Creek Falls loop hike that includes a stretch north of the Skyline to the Sea Trail, but this version has a southern leg on the high ridgeline of Mt. McAbee instead.

The park is quite crowded on summer weekends so either put up with the crowds or plan an off-season visit or a weekday. There was a $10 fee to park as of December 31, 2011.

Head west across the wide bridge across Big Basin Hwy (Hwy 236) from the park HQ following the signs to the Skyline to the Sea Trail. The connector trail you're on is wide, flat, smooth, and frequently crowded. Turn left onto the Skyline to the Sea Trail and begin a decent 3/4-mile ascent of 400' to a 5-way junction at a small saddle. The Howard King Trail branches off to the right, and that's your return route from Berry Creek Falls. Continue on the Skyline to the Sea Trail as it descends into the Kelly Creek drainage for 0.2 mile to its junction with the Sunset Trail which can be used to form the northern leg of a loop to Berry Creek Falls.

Continue on Skyline to the Sea as it heads inexorably down the deep and dark canyon. Kelly Creek flows into West Waddell Creek 1.8 miles below the junction. The entire hike so far has been in a deep redwood forest with a few Douglas firs mixed in. The vast majority of the redwoods are second-growth, but there are still a few old-growth giants. Redwoods have the rare ability to regenerate themselves from stumps, and even sprout trunks from roots and fallen trees. This area was extensively logged in the late 19th Century, but was spared from complete destruction because of the park's creation in 1902. The vast majority of the Bay Area's redwood forests were not allowed to regrow due to urbanization and intensive agriculture.

Timms Creek Trail heads north from the Skyline to the Sea Trail at the creeks' confluence, and it's only 0.9 mile further down Skyline to the Sea to Berry Creek Falls. You will most likely see several banana slugs on this hike, and be careful not to step on them. There is an observation platform on the right as soon as you get to the general vicinity to the falls, but there's a better platform right in front of the falls about 1/10 mile up the Berry Creek Falls Trail which heads north from its junction with the Skyline to the Sea Trail. Enjoy the close up view of the falls then return to the Skyline to the Sea Trail. Go 0.3 mile past the junction to the Howard King Trail. The hike has been pretty easy to this point, but it's about to get a lot more difficult.

The Howard King Trail heads south from the Skyline to the Sea Trail and West Waddell Creek, and ascends 1200' over 1.7 miles to the spine of the ridge that forms McAbee Mountain where it joins Hihn Hammond fire road. Go left at the road for 0.5 mile where the Howard King Trail branches off to the right. You can remain on the road or take the single track Howard King Trail. We stayed on the King Trail to see this hike's best long distance views. The ocean beyond Ano Nuevo is visible, and fog frequently rolls up the canyons from the coast to provide a great vista. Ano Nuevo is the winter home for hundreds of elephant seals who haul out to fight, breed, and delight tourists. Male elephant seals can grow to be 16-feet-long and weigh 6,000 lbs. These animals can dive to depths of up to a mile while hunting squid and whatever else they eat.

The Howard King Trail winds 1.2 mile before rejoining Hihn Hammond fire road and crossing it to meander along its north side (briefly rejoining it) for another 0.8 mile. The trail briefly rejoins the road again for a few hundred yards then branches off to the left for 0.4 mile to the 5-way junction mentioned previously. Return to the trailhead via the Skyline to the Sea Trail

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2012-01-01 JimmyLyding
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Big Basin Berry Creek Falls McAbee Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I have done Skyline to the Sea starting from Castle Rock to Waddell Beach in March, this time we have decided to start at Saratoga Gap and hike the whole trail to the beach. This is shorter version of the trail as you loose about 3-4 miles not starting from Castle Rock.
    We started around 7:30am from Saratoga Gap and past Highway 9 and Waterman Gap. We stopped for lunch at Big Basin State Park and visited Berry Creek Falls. The hike is mostly downhill with just a few ups and downs.
    After the falls the trail becomes fire road and is flat all the way to the beach.
    We got to the beach at 5pm.
    Big Basin Berry Creek Falls McAbee Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This trail is usually done as a two or three day backpacking trip. We decided to hike this in a day, 11 hours to be exact.
    We started at sunrise (7:30am) at Castle Rock State Park and continued down past Highway 9 to Waterman Gap (campground). Then it is onto Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The trail here has few ups and downs, otherwise mostly downhill. You will pass the park Headquarters and continue on Berry Creek Trail towards the famous waterfall. Once you pass the waterfall you will need to cross the river couple times and then the trail becomes fire road that leads to the beach and is flat. This part of the hike is very nice, close to the river and very easy. Once you need Waddell Beach, you are at your finish of 30 mile hike. We got there around 6:15pm and enjoyed few beers before starting our drive back.

    This hike is best done as one way north to south, you will need to set up shuttle for this.
    Big Basin Berry Creek Falls McAbee Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    First hike out after a long interruption of hiking activities due to moving and new job. Once again my first hike out in my new state was with Jim Lyding, I see the guy maybe once every 6-7 months but when it do it is QT. This hike was my first through the Redwoods that are not around my house and it did not disappoint. The trail is well defined and can be a fast one if need be. Got a few glimpses of Monterrey Bay but the haze and lighting made it a little NON HD. Light foot traffic and cooler weather made this a great day. Stopped in Boulder Creek on the way back to pick up some Chinese Food at the Red Pearl for that North East New Years tradition but luckily this is California so I could order and get it in less then 6 hours :y:

    Jim, I ordered the State Park Pass so start lining them up.

    Permit $$
    CA State Parks - Fee: typically $2-$15 per vehicle, view more information

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Take Hwy 9 from Los Gatos west for approximately 10 miles to Hwy 236 which is the Big Basin Hwy. Go right/west on 236 for approximately 5 slow miles to park HQ.
    page created by JimmyLyding on Jan 01 2012 9:18 pm
    128 GB Flash Drive... $14
    help comment issue

    end of page marker