Big Ben Tree and Fall Creek
8.2 miles     1800 ft
7 Jan 2012

The ascent to Big Ben involves two steep sections, which are great for a cardiovascular workout. The descent is mostly along Fall Creek which has plenty of water in winters and spring.

Location: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park - Fall Creek Unit

Elevation Profile

Notes: My GPS device could not record the first 0.5 miles of the hike properly.

Trip Planning

Trail Maps

» Redwood Hikes Map for Big Ben - Fall Creek hike: An excellent map by Dave Baselt for this hike.

» Official Trail Map: High quality trail map with countours and trails clearly shown.

» Redwood Hikes Map: Annotated trail map of San Lorenzo Valley that shows many parks, not just Henry Cowell. This is an excellent map sold by Dave Baselt ($6.95 in Jan 2012).

» PeasePress Map: Trails of Santa Cruz: Excellent quality map showing various parks in the Santa Cruz area.


This hike is well described in an article by RedwoodHikes.

Ascent to Big Ben: Follow Bennett Creek Trail for 0.2 miles to a junction with Fall Creek Trail, which is all along Fall Creek. At the junction, choose the left fork towards Lime Kilns. After 0.6 miles along Fall Creek, turn left at a fork in the trail to walk 0.3 miles along South Fork Trail. Turn right along a fire road. In about 0.3 miles, a sign for Lost Empire Trail appears on the left. Follow Lost Empire Trail for 1.7 miles to reach Lost Camp, and another 0.7 miles to reach Big Ben, the highest point in this hike.

Descent along Fall Creek: From Big Ben, follow Big Ben Trail for 1.4 miles to reach Fall Creek. Turn right and follow Fall Creek Trail for 2.3 miles all the way to the junction with Bennett Creek Trail. The trail head is another 0.2 miles away along Bennett Creek Trail.


Location: 1400 Felton Empire Rd Felton, CA 95018 . Parking area is visible in Google Maps if you zoom in sufficiently.

Directions: Along CA 17 south, exit Mount Hermon Rd in Scotts Valley. Drive 3.5 miles northwest along Mount Hermon Rd. Turn right on Graham Hill Road. In 0.1 miles, go through traffic light (Graham Hill becomes Felton Empire Rd at this intersection). Drive about 0.6 miles on Felton Empire Rd. Turn into a large parking lot marked by a sign for Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: Jan 2012)

Capacity: About 20 cars. At 8am, we were the first ones to park. When we finished the hike by 1:30pm, the parking lot was full.

Latitude: 37.049718     Longitude: -122.083155

Big Ben

Lost Empire Trail has a couple of steep sections leading up to Big Ben Tree.

Fall Creek

Fall Creek Trail meanders 2.3 miles next to a creek which has plenty of water in winter and spring.

© Copyright 2008—2020, Gurmeet Manku.