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It was okay, not my favorite.

The longest hike I have done till now and the most beautiful one too. Beautiful waterfalls. Gigantic redwoods. Silent nature.
Carry enough fluids and food. Sit near each waterfall, on the fallen redwoods and refuel yourself. Enjoyed this hike to the fullest. I will be going once again for this same hike soon.

Probably the second hardest hike I have done. Not in terms of difficult and steepness, but rather in terms of mere length. Bring lots of water and start early. The view of the waterfalls (multiple water falls :)) is worth the hike! enjoy guys! :)

1 month ago

A great starter backpacking trip, although I recommend having one experienced backpacker in your group. We split this into 3 days and for us it was the perfect amount of time. Beautiful scenery, especially between Big Basin and Waddell Beach, where you feel like you've stepped back in time to the prehistoric days. Hips and feet were a bit sore by the end of the third day. Taking off my boots and putting my feet in the water has never felt so good!

1 month ago

Great trail to spend time on :)

1 month ago

Did this with my husband for our anniversary a year ago. My first official backpacking trip! We took 3 days. Tips for the person picking you up, be sure they know where they are going! A breakdown in communication had us waiting almost 2 hours, there is no cell service at Waddell Beach. I would do it again and split the hike into two sections instead of three. I would also stay an additional night in Big Basin to explore that area more!

Will absolutely do this trail again, beautiful views and rewarding for the effort you put into it. Invigorating!

Four of us decided to do the Saratoga Gap to Waddell Beach hike all in one day. In order for us to accomplish it form sunrise to sundown we needed to run a good portion of it. We estimate we ran about 15 miles of it with on and off with breaks of course. We are all active, but none of us are long distance or avid runners. The trail is well marked and soft and moderate for the most part. It was difficult and arjurous trek to do in one day. We took 8 hours total with about 1 to 1.5 hours of breaks. We took a long break at big basin where we grabbed a quick bite at the store, then kept going until we hit the beach at 3:45pm.

I would not recommend hiking this entire trail in 1 day unless you can keep a 3.5 mph speed non stop, otherwise you are looking at a 12-14 hike to complete without running.

To the guy that complained about view and there only being redwood trees. He is right there are only redwood trees, lots of them. The only complaint I have is not of the trail itself ,but of the beach. It was very sandy and I got it all over my feet and inside my shoes way too sandy for my taste.


Beautiful hike. Mainly under the shade of redwoods, but with occasional treks at higher elevations in the sun. Definitely wear layers!!! You can go from chilly to sweating in a heartbeat. Wear good hiking shoes or sneakers with traction; parts of the trail near the waterfalls are VERY slippery (it is quite damp down there, and you have to traverse up, down and across some very wet and muddy rocks). If you do the full loop, prepare for a long hike -- bring snacks and water, and start no later than 11am (especially in the winter when the days are shorter). NOTE: There were several detours along the way due to weather-damaged areas, and I'm pretty certain I did at least an extra mile or two because of them. Just be prepared!

Beautiful hike through the redwoods. We did it in a day. The only problem was it was a 30 mile hike not 25 as it is called out here. That meant our timing got messed up. We were supposed to reach the sea by sunset and instead had to hike the last part with flashlights and missed the sunset!

....planning this for the first time. gonna break it into two days from big basin. Just not sure how I am getting up to big basin yet...and back home.

Very nice trail with lots of vegetation. Waterfall is nothing special as you can see better ones on the Cataract Trail by Mt Tam. Parking is expensive, but staff is extremely friendly. I would recommend doing this at least once just to say you did it.

It was an amazing trip. Too my dad and I two days. It's best to have someone drop you off at the beginning and pick you up at the end.

2 months ago

So we dove head first into this trail as my first backpacking trip. Going in January was a risk but the weather was perfect. We started at Castle Rock staging area and headed towards Waterman Gap. The views here are epic and the trail was a great challenge. My friend and I were very wore out by the time we made it to Waterman Gap. It was a great day. Waterman Gap was a cool little place and we were glad to see there was a bathroom and water. We had our choice of sites since we were the first ones to arrive. I found a good site with perfectly spaced trees for my hammock. We were bummed you can’t have a fire. Woke up the next morning and headed out toward Jay camp. This was by far the toughest day. The climb out of camp is 3 miles long. Anyone that says this is “all downhill” never did this climb! Once we got to the top of China Grade we only had about 4.7 miles to get to Jay camp. We arrived at park headquarters at 4:15 and the gift shop closed at 4:00 so no goodies for us. We hikes to Jay camp and chose site 6 for the night. Barely found trees that worked with my hammock. We slept good and headed out about 9:00. We were both pretty sore headed into day 3 but this was by far the best day. Leaving headquarters brought us deep into the forest that felt like we were in a different world. We had to take a little detour because part of the trail was closed but the atmosphere made it worth while. Another 10.5 miles to the beach!! All in all it was an epic trip. Most of the people we met thought that we were crazy doing this hike as our first backpacking trip but we made it!!!

Nothing really too special but if you have no other choice in a backpacking trip i guess its okay......

Beautiful well maintained trail. Part of it was detoured which made it longer. Bring at least 2 Liters of water per person. We packed a light lunch which was nice to have near one of the falls. I have done Waddell Beach to the falls once and had no idea there's so many more falls going the top route!

My husband took me as a surprise, I had wished I had worn my neoprene socks because I ended up with blisters.

No dogs are allowed. However someone had a horse on the trail so at some parts where the trail was very skinny we had to dodge giant horse poo piles

beautiful trail, minus the gunshots from the range, and minus the mountain lion!! other than that great trail. Lol.

3 months ago

What should I say, I very much looked forward to this hike after someone had recommended it to me. And then what do you know, last year's rainy season had pretty much closed off the whole trail and I had to wait another 3 months, until April of 2017, to hike it. The anticipation welled and and April had rounded the corner. I'll just get down to business. I was disappointed. More than an entire third of the hike runs alongside a paved road (with cars!). The first trail camp is conveniently located along a tokyo drifting hot-spot and offers bountiful tire-screeching and engine-revving for the no-sleep enthusiasts. The second "trail" camp (Jay's trail camp) isn't even a flipping trail camp. It's at big Basin HQ and let's just say look forward to the crowds and gift shops to complete your wilderness experience. Anywho Berry Creek Falls was pretty cool...

5 months ago

Loved all the scenery, steady slope of trail, cushioned, great weather for mNovember, but the first half of the hike (castle rock to Jay camp) just hugged a road the whole time. My group and I felt like hitchhikers and didn't get the satisfaction that we were hiking deep into the redwoods. Second half was MUCH BETTER (Jay camp to Waddell beach) and would definitely do that section again!

Great hike. Long but not difficult. Beautiful views and the lake is a real reward after long hours under the sun. We took a dive. It was very cold but really refreshing.

First backpacking experience. Only did the roundtrip hike/camp from Castle Rock SP to Waterman Gap.
Downhill to Waterman - pretty much all uphill back to Castle Rock. Good variety in terms of scenery. Took off 1 star because of gunfire and highway noise (although honestly not a big deal). Looking forward to completing the entire Skyline to Sea Trail in the future.

This is a HARD hike. We followed the track and went counter clockwise and it didn't disappoint. Pretty consistent climb for a solid 8 miles or so. Make sure you bring plenty of water and prepare for exposed trails as most of the ridge doesn't offer shade. We made a wrong turn somehow where the trail meets the creek but fortunately found the trail eventually. This is a good hike but very strenuous, make sure you're fully prepared for it!

The trail is well marked and once you get to the lake you feel very accomplished. Though, the rolling ridges, sun exposure in some spots, and heat made for a pretty tough hike in, we were still able to keep approx 20 min per mile pace.

Once at the lake you can fish, swim, and camp. Something to note, there is a little restroom shack and trash can not too far from Kelly Lake.

We are doing a 25 miler backpacking trip in Yosemite backcountry coming up so we did this trail to condition with our packs.

7 months ago

I hiked out to Coit Lake from the Hunting Hollow Park Entrance recently as part of a 2 night backpacking trip. The fishing at Coit was great. Only giving 4 out of 5 stars because the shore access on Coit lake was not as good as Mississippi or Kelly Lake. https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/henry-coe-coit-lake/

We did the Skyline to Sea trail to Berry Creek Falls, but there were a couple of detours due to trail closures (massive trees down early in the hike!)

Trail was gorgeous, waterfall was beautiful & much prettier than Sempervirens. Went on Friday morning, was not heavily trafficked & definitely had a "lost in nature" feeling.

We did an out & back from the falls, and on the way back to the HQ took Sunset Loop instead of the road detour back to Skyline to Sea! definitely recommend that.

trail running
8 months ago

Can't believe there are people actually complaining about "too many redwoods"- you just don't appreciate redwoods properly. Anyways, only 4 outta 5 cause signs can be awful at points. Started up at Castle Rock and didn't find out about the trail still being closed until I got to Big Basin- thanks for the heads up, guys. I guess the powers that be can write endless tickets should someone stay past sundown, but they can't update the main park sign or post anything to reflect the new distance. Was trying to do this in a day and had to turn back after Berry Creek Falls, was already at 23 miles coming into Big Basin originally due to previous unclear signs and some bad planning on my part. The 4 sided posts with arrows going in vague directions often don't help- just mark the side facing where the hiker will be coming from with "Trail X, take right, trail Y, take left"- I'm confused as to why this isn't the standard. Then I missed Sunset Connector Trail (only sign for it was on the back of the post, so you'd only see it coming from one direction), not sure if that woulda worked as the detour posted at Big Basin HQ was the 12 mile Berry Creek one- ya, just a mess of a hike in terms of clear directions. Anyways, as to why it's still a dope hike- Castle Rock is a beautiful place to start in the morning, loved seeing clouds cover the valley with my ultimate (unreached) destination, the sea, in the distance. The stretch beside the road isn't the best, but there's enough to keep you interested. There are some open sections over some interesting rock formations, plenty of impressive redwoods, and there is some wildlife- lizards, hawks up at Castle Rock if you start later, and I saw a green snake chowing down on a mouse which was insane. Obviously I can't review the whole thing since I had to stop short, but it's a heck of a thru-hike taking you through some nicely varied terrain- and yes, there are lots of Redwoods, still can't believe people manage to make that a negative. Anyways, I'm planning on finishing the last 12+ miles once my feet hate me a bit less, heck of a hike from what I did cover though!

Nice hike! Great views, redwoods, awesome scenery!

8 months ago

This trail will push one to their limit as portions are incredibly steep. The area is stunning with great vistas of ridges and valleys. The trails are not maintained so grasses, tar weed and other weeds will fill one's socks with stickers and tarry goo (summertime). Bobcats, deer, hawks and many other wildlife will be seen. Flat areas for tents are at a premium as this area is steep. Filtered water from the ponds and lakes tastes like rain water. Beautiful but exhausting.

Such a beautiful place

9 months ago

Great hike, around 31 miles in total, 3 days. I'm a beginner backpacker and I found this beautiful and not too challenging. We had a nice slow and steady pace throughout, around 2mph, and I found that very doable.

We started at Castle Rock around noon on Tuesday. There are some exposed sections and a couple of short scrambles around Goat Rock. Also: beautiful views. We stopped for a snack at Castle Rock trail camp (pit toilet, water), and then left for Waterman Gap. Camp was quiet and secluded, but near highway 9. Car noise died down early and we had a peaceful nights sleep. There's water and a pit toilet, no food lockers. Total day of 9.3 miles.

Day 2 we started around 8:30 and hiked the 10 miles to Big Basin Headquarters. There are a few short exposed sections here as well, and some steep up and downs. I didn't find it very challenging, and enjoyed it. Took a long lunch break at HQ, it was crowded, but we were able to grab some supplies we needed and a quick snack. Left for Sunset camp around 2:30, made it there around 5. I've done the reverse hike (Berry Falls to HQ via Sunset trail) and found it more challenging in that direction than going this way. Did feel like we were a little late getting to the camp, many of the sites were occupied by large groups, and only small/awkwardly placed ones were left. There are food lockers and a pit toilet, no water. Water is available about .4 mile away, down a fairly steep grade, at the falls. We'd stocked up at HQ and decided to skip it till morning. The total for the day was 14.3 miles.

Day 3 started around 7:30, hiked down to Berry Falls and spent some time filtering our water for the day. It's a beautiful spot and there was no one around that early. First couple miles are a little varied, steep decline along the falls to start, than some ups and downs, but the last 5 miles or so are wide, flat, and easy. We stayed on the bike trail rather than the hiker bypass because my partner was having some shoe troubles, and finished around noon. The day's total was 7 miles.

Would highly recommend this for entry-level backpacking, helps to have an experienced friend.

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