Skyline to Sea Help
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Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Skyline to Sea Help on 10/16/2013 12:23:23 MDT Print View

I was starting the process of planning a few trips for next year and I was looking into the Skyline to Sea Trail. I was looking for some input here if anyone has any experience, my main concern is logistics, planning type stuff and or maps you used or found useful. I know nothing about the trail it just came up on a few searches and looks like a fun trail.

Can anyone offer any personal tips, or has anyone completed it and have advice, time of year, camp locations, etc. Thanks

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Skyline to Sea Help on 10/16/2013 13:23:56 MDT Print View

This is a shuttle trip. So please have this figured out. Time of the year? Basically March to November is fine. I did it in two days, starting at Castle Rock, hiking to Big Basin where we spent the night and then hiking to the coast. We were done by noon. Most of your first day hike is aling Hwy 9 where you cross the road a bunch. Lots of garbage and noise too. One time thing for me. I was not impressed. I'd rather hike Ventanna or more importantly the Sierra Nevada

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: Skyline to Sea Help on 10/16/2013 13:47:52 MDT Print View

Thanks for the response, when you say shuttle you mean leaving a car at one location then driving to the trail head, correct? Hmm disappointed to hear it didn't impress. So it easily feasible in two days? I can see its ALL down hill and doesn't appear to be a tough walk, but a weekend trip?

Maybe I will look into some other trips to do, any recommendations for similar 'beach' terrain with hopefully easier transportation logistics. As always, thanks.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Skyline to Sea Help on 10/16/2013 14:03:16 MDT Print View

I've backpacked S2S variations several times and enjoyed the trip. Some tips:

- Yes, the start is higher than the end. But S2S still has long hills to climb!

- Take mosquito repellent.

- Sunscreen barely needed, you'll be hiking in deep forest most of the time, except on the Chalk Mountain variation (see below).

- Redwood Hikes makes the best maps of the area. S2S is covered by their Big Basin and Castle Rock map, revised 2013. Available at some REIs and local backpacking stores, or order online. Electronic versions available for iOS and Android. Some other maps covering all or parts of S2S are outdated or just plain wrong.

- Key water sources on S2S and variations include: Castle Rock Trail Camp, San Lorenzo River, Waterman Gap Trail Camp, Boulder Creek, Opal Creek, Big Basin Park HQ, Jay Camp, Upper West Waddell Creek, Berry Creek, and the Ranger Station/Horse Camp near Waddell Beach. Boiling, filter, or chemicals highly recommended. The official start of S2S has no water.

- The lower you go along Waddell Creek, the browner the water gets from redwood tannins, so the water tastes yucky. Much of the flow in East Waddell Creek comes from the Big Basin sewage treatment plant, so I don't get water below the confluence.

- The upper several miles of S2S are very close to noisy Highway 9. Better alternate routes are Saratoga Toll Road to Beekhuis Road Trail back up to S2S, or Saratoga Toll Road to the end and cut back up to S2S below Waterman Gap. Even better is to start at Castle Rock, maybe camp first night there, and cut over on the Travertine Springs Trail to Saratoga Toll Road.

- Waterman Gap Trail Camp is very noisy due to Highway 9. Traffic doesn't calm down until after 11 pm, with another burst when the bars close at 2 am, then commuter traffic starts by 5 am. I would skip this camp.

- Nice variation on S2S goes up Basin Trail or China Grade Road to Lane Trail Camp. No water near Lane. Continue on Johansen Road, Whitehouse Canyon Road, maybe stay at Sunset Camp, then Chalk Mountain Road, West Ridge Trail, to Twin Redwoods Camp. Awesome views from Whitehouse, Chalk Mountain, and West Ridge. Good views are scarce in these heavily forested mountains.

- Big Basin Park headquarters camp store has limited hours and a limited selection of junk food.

- Jay Camp can be a little noisy from local park traffic on weekends, usually pretty quiet on weekdays. Coin operated showers!

- Another variation on S2S is to take the Sunset Trail to Sunset Trail Camp, then hike down Berry Creek past the falls. No water at Sunset Trail Camp, Berry Creek usually has water about 1/2 mile below camp.

- A few years ago Alder Camp was closed and completely overgrown. Twin Redwoods was open. Check with the park when you make reservations. You make all campsite reservations by phone, except Castle Rock, which is first-come, first-served.

- Some campsite reservations fill up pretty far in advance during the summer. Most of the trail camps are closed November 1st through April 30th.

- I like May before the crowds get thick but the creeks are still running and the days are long; and September when the weather is pleasant. Summer can be surprisingly hot and humid in the hills, and cool and foggy near the coast.

- What Ken said: work out your shuttle. You can leave a car for several nights at Castle Rock and Waddell Beach with park permission, about 90 minute drive one-way. You can't leave a car at Saratoga Gap. You can't get from one end to the other by public transit. You could hike down and back, or hike a loop. I'm lucky, my wife drops me off and picks me up!

-- Rex

Edited by Rex on 10/16/2013 14:05:12 MDT.