2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – January 2012

Readers' Choice 2012: Skyline-To-The-Sea Trail, Castle Rock Sp, Ca

Hike through a towering redwood forest on this easy-access overnighter.

by: Katherine Rea

Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park (Hank Christensen)
Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park (Hank Christensen)

When I first started daydreaming about where I’d want to go as BACKPACKER field scout, my mind immediately went to the Sierra and other big-trip destinations. But what I really wanted to do, I soon realized, was share a local trail that showcases my home in northern California. And I knew just the route. I grew up at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Saratoga, and I live minutes away from Castle Rock State Park and the trailhead for this 29.5-mile point-to-point. Yet I’ve never hiked it—funny how easy it is to ignore what’s right out your door.

The Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail connects Castle Rock and Big Basin Redwoods State Park, home to an 18,000-acre redwood forest. It’s mostly downhill, leading through the wildlife-packed Santa Cruz Mountains, all the way to Waddell Beach, a wide, sandy cove popular with wind and kite surfers. It works best spread over three days.

The first third of the route is a little close to the road for my taste—I could hear traffic—but soon enough you’ll get views of the rolling San Lorenzo Valley before dipping into a mix of grasses, dense hardwoods, then Jurassic Park-like ferns on the floor of redwood forests at mile 20. Pack a bear canister—the campsite raccoons are clever.

Add a 2.7-mile detour on day three to explore the prettiest waterfalls: Berry Creek, Silver, and Golden. You could hit just the highlights by starting at Big Basin headquarters and trekking eight miles to Waddell Beach. But when I go again, I’ll keep the same itinerary. Backpacking and camping this good should be savored.

Map Big Basin and Castle Rock Trail Maps ($5 each, 831-335-3174)

Reserve sites two month prior ($15, 831-338-8861)

Trip ID

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
mk outlet
Nov 03, 2013

Gucci Shoes Outlet,
North Face Outlet Online,
Monster Beats Outlet Online,
Polo Ralph Outlet Online,
Coach Purses Outlet Online,
Coach Factory Store,
MCM Handbags Outlet Online,
North Clearance Outlet Online,
Michael Kors Outlet Online,
Michael Kors Outlet,
Michael Kors Purses,
Coach Purses Store,
Louis Vuitton Shoes Outlet,
Louis Vuitton Outlet,
Coach Factory Outlet Online,
Coach Outlet USA,
Michael Kors Outlet,
Coach Store Outlet, Coach Outlet Coach Outlet Online Coach Factory Outlet Online Coach Factory Outlet Coach Factory Online Coach Factory Store Coach Factory Coach Purses Outlet Online Coach Purses Outlet Coach Outlet USA Coach Outlet Online USA Coach Store Online Coach Store Outlet

Ryan Commons
Mar 14, 2012

A complete 7 minute video covering the entire trail and a detailed trip planning guide are available on Walkifornia:

Jan 26, 2012

Go ultralight and do it all in one day, park a car at Waddell Beach or camp at either Twin Redwoods Trail Camp or Alder Trail Camp and return the next day. You can't park in the Caltrans lot at Saratoga Gap overnight and you can't enter the Castle Rock parking lot until it opens at 8am. If you want to start earlier there are a few spots right along Skyline Blvd which do not have no-parking signs. You should be safe there, just make sure you're parked well off the pavement.

The worst part about this trail is that during the weekend areas around Big Basin Headquarters are packed with tourists with absolutely no trail etiquette.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Hiking on rocks
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: GoBlueHiker
Finally going Backpacking!
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: 92hatchattack
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions