Skyline To The Sea Trail

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California

Elevation Gain1,911ft
Trailhead Elevation2,624ft
Elevation Min/Max1827/2624ft
Elevation Start/End2624/2624ft

Skyline To The Sea Trail

Skyline To The Sea Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Mateo County and Santa Cruz County, California. It is within Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Long Ridge Open Space Preserve, West Waddell Creek State Wilderness, and Castle Rock State Park. It is 23.7 miles long and begins at 2,624 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,911 feet. The 3. Opal Creek, 1. Redwood Circle, 10. Madrone, 11. Meadow, and 2. Old Circle information guideposts and the Campfire Center theatre are near the trailhead. There is also an industrial. The 4. Tanbark Oak information guidepost, the Waterman Gap Trail Camp, Twin Redwoods Trail Camp, and Camp Herbert Trail Camp (permanently closed) camp sites, the Statue Of Responsibility tree, and the Scherwin Grove can be seen along the trail. There are also an emergency phone, picnic sites, parkings, bbqs, water towers, a recycling, a wood, a scree, a residential, an information board, and a forest along the trail. The trail ends near the W. Ernest Jones, Jr. Grove wood. This trail connects with the following: Red Mountain Trail, Skyline to the Sea Bypass Trail, Middle Ridge Road, Berry Creek Falls Trail, Cutoff Trail, Beekhius Road Trail, Alternate Trail, Mccrary Ridge Trail, Redwood Trail, Meteor Trail, Sequoia Trail, Maddock Homested Connector Trail, Hollow Tree Trail, Dool Trail, Timms Trail, Sunset Trail Connector, Skyline to the Sea - Saratoga Toll Rd Connector Trail, East Ridge Trail, Creeping Forest Trail, Basin Trail Easement, Nutmeg Trail, Summit Meadows Trail, Howard King Trail, Henry Creek Trail, Saratoga Toll Road Trail, Stts/Hihn Connector Trail, Achistaca Trail and Saratoga Gap Trail.

Skyline To The Sea Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State (Wilderness Press)
Author varies by trail
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"From the ridgeline spine of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Skyline-tothe- Sea Trail descends through lush woodlands, passes sweeping vistas, lines crystalline streams, explores old-growth redwood forest, visits beautiful waterfalls, and then reaches the Pacific Ocean at Waddell Beach. It may be the best-known backpacking trip in the Bay Area, but the scenery and adventure are irresistibly epic."
100 Hikes in California's Central Sierra & Coast Range (The Mountaineers Books)
Vicky Spring & Tom Kirkendall
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"From the crest of the Santa Cruz Range to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the Skyline to the Sea Trail is the reigning monarch of the elaborate Santa Cruz Mountains trail system. The first segment of this trail, from Saratoga Gap to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, was constructed in 1969 by 2,500 enthusiastic volunteers in a single weekend. Since that time, the idea has grown and the trail has been extended to the ocean."

Skyline To The Sea Trail Trip Reports

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Just finished this trip and brought along with me a first-time backpacker. I agree that this is a perfect first-timer's experience. We added a little to it and made the second day a little longer than normal. We started out at Castle Rock SP off Skyline Blvd. The first day had 12 miles to Waterman Gap Camp and offered beautiful vistas. The only downside was the mile and a half through a private residential area right before Saratoga Gap and the sounds from the shooting range near Castle Rock Trail Camp. The second day, we bypassed Jay Camp at big Basin HQ and went on the Sunset Trail from HQ on to Sunset Camp. Made for a doable 15 mile day. The first 10 miles to Big Basin intertwined through Hwy 9 and 236. Once we got onto the Sunset Trail, it was a pretty strenuous 5 miles to the camp, where we arrived just before sundown. No potable water. Third day made for an easy 7 miler down to Ano Nuevo and our Jeep. Passing 3 beautiful waterfalls on Berry Creek Trail. We also found a nice, fresh spring to refill our water. All in all, very refreshing and rewarding trip. Would recommend to anyone of any level for a nice 3 day weekend.
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Great Trip!!! I had been eying it for years and it was worth the wait. Awesome views, decent trails for the most part. Great trip to introduce someone to backpacking. If you want to feel totally lost in nature then I would suggest using a combination of different trails to bypass Big Basin hq but either way the fact that you cross hwy 9 a few times once you get on the south side of waterman gap pulls you out of the deep wilderness mentality fast. This however does help make it a perfect introduction to backpacking trip for new backpackers, and the relative closeness to civilization helps those who might be apprehensive about venturing out into the woods on their first backpacking trip. I know from experience I brought along a first timer on this last trip and he did great, the fact that little amenities like flushing toilets and fireplaces were right there on night two in Jay Camp at Big Basin made the trip very doable for him. This is a great trip and I would highly recommend it for everyone from the advanced to the novice backpacker, the vistas, waterways, and trail sights make this an excellent 3 day weekend (can be done in two but I wouldn't recommend rushing and missing the sights).

Skyline To The Sea Trail Photos

Trail Information

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Nearby City
Castle Rock State Park
Skill Level
Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Castle Rock State Park, Sanborn-Skyline County Park
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-min. Mindego Hill, Cupertino, Castle Rock Ridge, Big Basin, Franklin Point, and Point Año Nuevo; Castle Rock State Park Map; Big Basin Redwoods State Park Map; Trail Map of the Santa Cruz Mountains 1 & 2
Local Maps

Trail Log