After a decent-sized walk, things suddenly started to get very “redwood-y,” by which I mean awesome.
My first visit felt unusual from the start. I was headed to the Cascade Creek property—the spectacular forest that Save the Redwoods League is working to protect. That drive south down Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay is always spectacular with its grassy fields and windswept views of the shimmering Pacific, but there’s nothing about it that has ever shouted redwoods at me. The hike started not far from the road into scattered oaks that grew slowly denser. Then the oaks turned to pines as a trickling stream appeared alongside the trail. The trees grew taller as I finally reached the crumbling dam I’d been told about. It was getting warm, and I started seriously questioning the wisdom of wearing jeans and a jacket.
But a little farther, the redwoods. Even more, that redwoods feeling – not just the giant trees, but also a drop in temperature, clean air, dappled sunlight, and green all around the trail – just pure trail happiness. I walked on, conscious of an incline but unbothered, surrounded as I was by all this beauty.
There’s a ridge on this property where you can see in one sweeping view the entire redwood forest and the ocean beyond. It’s spectacular, but my favorite part is along that trail, full redwood immersion. These are second-growth coast redwoods, but growing so fast and strong that you could easily mistake them for their old-growth grandparents. Their trunks edge right up to the trail and you’re forced in several places to skip over their hefty roots.
These second-growth trees have quite a story to tell. Researchers took a close look at one of these younger trees (just a baby at 100 years old) and found that it was actually larger and nearly as tall as the oldest tree they measured. You have to do a little bushwhacking to get to the 100 acres of old-growth trees on the property, but they’re well worth it.
If you go even further up the hill, you eventually reach Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and that’s the payoff of this remarkable place, this incredible connection between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The League describes Cascade Creek as a keystone property that links a number of protected areas together, maximizing the ecological value of the entire region.
This is the kind of place you protect, not just because it is incredibly beautiful, but because it makes the natural world in every direction all that much better. If you’d like to be a part of this great project, learn more here.