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Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, 3 days for Thanksgiving
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Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, 3 days for Thanksgiving on 11/28/2010 17:59:59 MST Print View

Jim and I took a three day hike of roughly 65 miles during Thanksgiving week. There was a weather forecast for three days of clear cool weather, so we took advantage of a break in the rain and walked to Santa Cruz. We had a very nice walk. By Bay Area standards it was cold (down in the 20s at night), the last day of the hike was a record low for many nearby towns. But the skies were blue and the air was clear. From our campsite at the top of a hill in Big Basin the Farallon Islands were clearly visible ~ 60 miles away.


Link to annotated SmugMug photo show


Link to Google Map (gmap-pedometer) allowing you to zoom in on details of the route, satellite images, etc. The line follows our route, but is only approximate in some places. (If you double click in gmap it will extend the route, which will make you quite confused.)

Home to the corner of Arastradero and Deer Creek Roads in Palo Alto via a local bus.
Walk to Santa Cruz.
Bus back to San Jose CalTrain station.
CalTrain home.

Link to more information about using public transit to access trailheads.

There is a series of parks that abut each other, forming a nearly continuous trail corridor between the two towns.
City of Palo Alto Arastradero Preserve
City of Palo Alto Foothills Park
Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District Preserves:
--- Los Trancos Open Space Preserve (OSP)
--- Monte Bello OSP
--- Skyline Ridge OSP
--- Long Ridge OSP
Castle Rock State Park
Big Basin State Park
Henry Cowell State Park – Fall Creek Unit
Henry Cowell State Park – Redwoods Unit
City of Santa Cruz Greenbelt, Pogonip Preserve
City of Santa Cruz Harvey West Municipal Park

The first two miles in Palo Alto, and the last 3 miles in Santa Cruz was on town streets. There was another 6 miles during the walk on County Roads (Empire Grade Road and Felton Empire Road). The remaining 50+ miles miles was on trail through public park land.

We have now taken four hikes that could be linked into one long Bay Area mega-hike of about 350 miles. Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz to San Francisco, San Francisco to Point Reyes, Point Reyes Peninsula Circumamblation, and finally Point Reyes to Sausalito. Sausalito to San Francisco by ferry and CalTrain home to Palo Alto.
Information about each of these trips is included in our SmugMug gallery.

Amy L, Palo Alto

Edited by drongobird on 11/29/2010 08:03:25 MST.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, 3 days for Thanksgiving" on 11/28/2010 18:50:18 MST Print View

Wow! Lovely photos, you are fortunate to have such a diverse region close at hand to get out into. As usual, I enjoyed your photographs, thanks for sharing.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, 3 days for Thanksgiving" on 11/28/2010 22:14:37 MST Print View

That's incredible Amy.....I had no idea there was a trail route from Big Basin into Santa Cruz.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
"Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, 3 days for Thanksgiving" on 11/29/2010 07:31:33 MST Print View

Unfortunately, the weak link in the trail system is between Big Basin and Henry Cowell State Parks. I had that info buried in the photo show, and I just edited my original post to clarify that piece of road walking.
Between Eagle Rock (at the southern boundary of Big Basin Park) and Henry Cowell Park we walked on Empire Grade Road for 5 miles. And then between the two units of Big Basin (Fall Creek Unit and Redwoods unit) we walked for a mile through the town of Felton.

You can, however, get from Arastradero Preserve to Eagle Rock without any road walking.

Edited by drongobird on 11/29/2010 08:04:49 MST.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Re: Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, 3 days for Thanksgiving on 11/29/2010 12:31:43 MST Print View

Amy, thank you for sharing this unique trip.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Thanks on 12/01/2010 09:01:38 MST Print View

Great info and photos.

Sometimes road walks are OK, if they aren't too long and aren't stressful/dangerous roads. Also, resupply is easy, need need to carry a lot of food:-)

Looks like lots of great options in the area.