A California Bike Overnight at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

A short road ride to Big Basin Redwoods State Park inspired me to return that evening with my mountain bike and bikepacking bags for a bike overnight shake down of my gear.

Bicycle Adventurers: Just myself, Larry N., on a solo trip

When: April 22–23, 2017

Accommodations: Tent camping at one of the “Hike or Bike Campsites” at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Distance: 22 miles with 1800 ft of climbing

Bonus tip for this adventure: California State Route 236 is a beautiful road into the park — freshly paved and buttery smooth

Day One

After a morning road ride on California State Route 236 with a friend, I felt inspired to come back with my mountain bike later in the day with my bikepacking gear and spend the night. Since I had paid for my spot in the morning, I was guaranteed a spot that evening at one of Big Basin Redwood’s two “Hike or Bike Campsites.”

I packed up the rig — it was just overnight — and brought my own dehydrated rice recipe, a tiny titanium spirits stove, some water bladders, some coffee for the morning, and my sleeping bag, pad, pillow, chair, and my Kindle.

For the second time that day, I climbed to the top of the ridge at Little Basin Road to about 1100 ft., then rode the super fun downhill to the park — about three miles and 550 ft. down. 

Since I already paid for the spot, I just pulled in and stuck my receipt in the log by the campsite sign. 

I set up the tent, had a beer that I brought in my CamelBak filled with ice, and relaxed to the sound of birds in the late afternoon. I spun around the park before dusk and rode the bicycle without a load. It was sure fun to tool around the park and check out all the wonders of the old growth redwood grove. This park was established at the turn of the century when people decided that the redwoods needed to be preserved before they were all cut down. 

As the light started to fade, I returned to my camp and boiled water to rehydrate my homemade rice and bean dish. Evernew’s titanium alcohol stove from Japan worked great to boil water fast. The rice dish turned out well and I congratulated myself on a good first attempt with the dehydrator. I also had a cup of vegan split-pea soup that I had found in the pantry before I left. 

The hot food was so good to feel in my tummy while sitting in the cool evening air. I was also happy I brought a small Thermarest inflatable camp seat to keep my butt from losing heat to the bench.

A few mosquitoes came out at dusk, but I was still wearing the cycling clothes and they couldn’t get past the multiple layers of lycra ... another bonus of not changing into street clothes right away. I listened to a cool podcast about bikepacking with a mountain bike resort owner from Whitefish, Montana ... sounds fun to bike and camp around Glacier National Park ... someday.

The evening light was gorgeous and when it got dark, I hopped into my tent to read, listen to music on my phone, and fell asleep quickly. It was a great first day.

Day Two

I woke to the sound of birds early in the morning, changed back into my cycling clothes, and stretched a bit. Made some morning coffee and finished off a piece of goat cheese to have with it. Then I packed the tent and the rest of my gear into my bikepacking bags and rode back up the small hill before the fun downhill back to the town of Boulder Creek, California.

Your favorite local bike shop? Spokesman Bicycles, Santa Cruz, California

Bike overnight tips and tricks?

  • My favorite must-have gear for the trip: Sea to Summit inflatable pillow.
  • Something I wished I brought: something for dessert.
  • How I kept this trip simple: I chose a nearby park.

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HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!

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