Forum Index » Pre-Trip Planning » Skyline to Sea January


Display Avatars Sort By:
Liz Thomas
(Snorkel)

Locale: Colorado
Skyline to Sea January on 12/27/2012 21:20:36 MST Print View

I'm thinking about backpacking the Skyline to Sea Trail in January and have found various posts on this site about the trail, but it looks like things might have changed with park closures in the last year, so am looking for some more recent information.

It looks like hikers are required to stay at the trail camps along the way, but also that they are closed. I'd rather not stealth it, so am looking for potential other options.

Using information from: http://www.bigbasin.org/NewFiles/Skyline_to_the_Sea_Trail_Camp_Information.pdf

It looks like from page 2 that there are other options in the Santa Cruz mountains, but none really within reasonable walking distance (e.g. the Pigeon Point lighthouse appears to be 10 miles from the trail). Alternately, starting at the family campgrounds at Big Basin and doing a yoyo in both directions could work.

Has anyone out there backpacked this recently and figured out a way to do it?

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Skyline to Sea January on 12/28/2012 00:07:08 MST Print View

I've backpacked variations on the S2S trail a few times in the past 10 years, but never in January!

Most of the state park backpack camps in the Santa Cruz mountains have been closed November to April for several years due to budget cuts.

Possible legal camp sites more-or-less on S2S:

- Castle Rock walk-in camp might be open in the winter, call Castle Rock park directly (408) 867-2952.

- Car campgrounds near Big Basin Redwood State Park headquarters, but you already know about those.

- Jay Camp is a walk-in camp near BBRSP HQ, and might be open in the winter. Better than camping next to an RV. Hot showers nearby, bring quarters.

- Costanoa Lodge is much closer than Pigeon Point, easily reached by trail and a short stretch of dirt road from BBRSP, 3/4 mile from the ocean, with a variety of lodging and camping options. Not cheap. Be prepared for high winds. I treat myself to the Douglas Fir cabins.

The best map (by far) for this trip is the "Bay Area Trail Map: Saratoga to Big Basin" from Redwood Hikes Press

You'll have about 10 hours of "daylight" in January (tall redwood trees and a LOT of rain mean you'll rarely see the sun), so the long miles between these camps require hiking most of the daylight hours. But it's quite possible to go from the official start of S2S at Saratoga Gap to BBRSP HQ in one LONG day, then BBRSP to Costanoa in another long day, then touch the ocean 3/4 mile from Costanoa the next morning.

Edited by Rex on 12/28/2012 00:08:28 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Skyline to Sea January on 12/28/2012 10:53:57 MST Print View

Liz, Pigeon Point is pretty far from the exit point from the trail. The hike can be done in two days BTW. I did it in one and a half days and I am not a fast hiker. Is the park closed to camping? When I did this hike about 6 years ago, on our first and only night we stayed at the backpackers campground near the park HQ. Not much privacy, but legal. There is a county bus at Hwy 1 where you can take it into Santa Cruz at the exit point of your hike. Many public transportation options for you if that is your need. Ask away as I am a local.

Edited: I did the hike in Jan. Seems we always have a week of fantastic weather each year in January. But you never know .....

Edited by kennyhel77 on 12/28/2012 10:59:32 MST.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Re: Skyline to Sea January on 12/28/2012 11:14:05 MST Print View

Santa Cruz Metro buses no longer run to either BBRSP headquarters, or to the end of S2S at Waddell Beach, due to budget cuts.

http://www.scmtd.com/routes/

Bruce Tolley
(btolley) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Skyline to the Sea in January on 12/28/2012 11:22:04 MST Print View

Liz
I have hiked in in January and Feb and March. If you choose the right weekend, it can be truly awesome. I was snowed on twice coming down from Skyline though and once at Waterman Gap.

If you want to camp the night before you start, there is a walk in camp at Sanborn County Park and a connector trail to Castle Rock SP and the Skyline to the Sea trail.

Due to budget cuts, the Superintendent of Big Basin Redwoods SP has closed the backcountry camps. The only legal camping between now and May 1 is the Castle Rock back packing camp and at Big Basin Redwoods SP, either the backpacking camp or the car campground.

Many illegal campers are trashing the closed backcountry camps. Last may I found someone had turned a fairly nice campsite at Waterman into a fire pit.

Be warned, it can get very dark very fast under the Redwood canopy in winter.You might need to use your headlamp but you should be able to make the whole 29 miles in 1.5 or 2 days.

Also do not take water for filtering or chemical treatment out of Waddell Creek between the ocean and Big Basin SP. The creek is used for sewage discharge. If you must take water, use the tributary streams that flow into Waddell Creek.

Edited by btolley on 12/28/2012 11:23:17 MST.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F - M
Detour to Berry Creeks Falls on 12/28/2012 15:27:26 MST Print View

Hi Liz,

Now after the rains the Berry Creek Falls will be at full flow. So I would recommend a slight variation of the Skyline-to-the-Sea route. You can see several photos in this trip report about a hike from Bay to Beach. The second half of that hike is basically the Skyline-to-the-Sea route with a slight variation that allows you to see three falls: Golden Caskades, Silver Fall and Berry Creek Fall. This map gives you an idea - just take the Sunset Trail instead of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail from Big Basin Headquarter. After the third fall you will re-join the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.

Have fun out there!

Manfred

P.S.: Link to map doesn't work. So here is it again for copy and paste http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.bigbasin.org/NewFiles/berryvreekfallsmap.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.bigbasin.org/trailsberrycreekfalls.html&h=290&w=650&sz=105&tbnid=RxFaJa8r701cUM:&tbnh=51&tbnw=114&zoom=1&usg=__ZUZEbKEydW1Z_cmw9s9qmavki-4=&docid=ryKy5k6Fd-klqM&sa=X&ei=bRveUJ6DCsuwigKztIDoDA&ved=0CFUQ9QEwBQ&dur=126

Edited by Orienteering on 12/28/2012 15:30:09 MST.

Liz Thomas
(Snorkel)

Locale: Colorado
What the parks said... on 12/28/2012 15:53:17 MST Print View

Thank you everyone for your helpful and useful information!

I just called the parks to see if some of the plans mentioned will work, and here's what they said:

Castle Rock has first-come/first-serve campsites available in the winter and that they are "very strict about making sure we can make it to our next campsite."

I called Big Basin and they said that Huckleberry Camp (regular family car camping) is open this January. It is the only camp in Big Basin open this winter. On the map, it looks like that's 1.3 miles by road from the Skyline to Sea Trail. Alternately, by taking a loop along the Sequoia Trail and foregoing a few miles of Skyline to Sea, you could meet up with the Huckleberry camp.


I think given the restrictions in the Santa Cruz mountains right now, I may decide to do something in Henry Coe instead.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F - M
GGG V at Henry Coe in January on 12/28/2012 16:02:32 MST Print View

Hi Liz,

If you are thinking about Henry Coe in January you might be able to combine that with the BPL meeting there on the weekend of January 25-27.

Best Regards,

Manfred

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: What the parks said... on 12/29/2012 14:50:12 MST Print View

Liz, it sounds like you want to hike around the SF Bay Area....Coe, is alright really, but Point Reyes which is an hour north of SF is much much better scenery wise. Also Ventana Wilderness near Monterey is pretty great too. Just sayin