Although part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Little Basin feels a lot different than the other state park campsites, because until 2011 it was a privately-owned retreat for Hewlett-Packard employees.
The most obvious difference is that Little Basin is entirely in second-growth redwoods, so the woods are less attractive than Big Basin, with lots of stumps scattered around the campsites. Some of the stumps are actually pretty impressive; this area once had trees just as big as Big Basin.
You’re supposed to have a group of at least 4 people to stay here, and most of the campers seem to be families with small children. Little Basin does have an unusually family-friendly feel for a campground, since there’s a lot more area for kids to run around than any Big Basin campground and a lot more common facilities, with a large playground, a softball field, and tennis, basketball, and beach vollyball courts. For larger groups there’s a kitchen facility that can be rented for $250 and two big picnic areas.
Near the entrance is a small staffed office with a few snacks and firewood for sale. There’s only one small bathroom building for the bulk of the camp and another building near the large group camp area.
In contrast to Big Basin (where the gift shop has a surprisingly large selection of wine), no alcohol is allowed in Little Basin. Pets are also not allowed. Like every redwood campground, Little Basin can be quite buggy as the nearby creeks turn into a series of stagnant pools in summer.
If you want to see any old-growth redwood scenery you have to drive a bumpy 5 miles to the Big Basin visitor center, or hike 3 miles (each way) over Pig Ridge. Two hikes are available within Little Basin, a 2-mile climb to Eagle Rock and a 2-mile loop on some old logging roads; both are enjoyable but don’t compare with Big Basin’s old-growth trails.
The campground has a mixture of drive-up tent campsites, cabins, and one RV site. Reservations are required; you can’t just walk in and get a campground like you can at Big Basin’s other drive-in campgrounds.
Most of the campsites are clustered together in the middle of the campground, but there are a few more secluded sites. Each site has a nice metal bench, a bear box, and a fire pit with a grill. The sites near the center of the campground, in the bottom of the basin, are in the deepest, shadiest part of the redwood grove, and also the part that’s the most heavily logged.
Little Basin’s tidy cabins are wooden sheds with unfinished interiors, making them feel kind of like staying in a little garage. The furnishings are actually pretty similar to Big Basin’s Huckleberry tent cabins, except you get electric lights, an electric outlet, and somewhat better sound insulation. There’s no option to rent beddings or cookware, so you have to bring your own. The cabins do have heaters but can still get pretty cold.
Although they’re all the same price, the cabins aren’t all the same size. Some have twin bunk beds only while others have larger double-sized platforms. Most of the cabins are in the woods, but if you prefer a brighter location, try cabins MV1 and MV2, which are at the edge of a sunny meadow.
Sites 46, 47, and 48 are walk-in sites; you have to park across the street from the sites and walk a few yards. The sites are clustered around an open (but shaded) area in a redwood grove so they don't have any privacy from each other. These sites would be ideal if you have 18 people and can reserve all three, but if you just need one site they aren't any better than the regular sites.
© 2018, 2019 David Baselt