Explore TODO - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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I’ve done this loop dozens of times and it’s always nice. Wonderful views of the Bay! The section to the south is far less traveled. The peak can be a bit windy and/or chilly, so bring a light jacket if you plan on hanging out.

Definitely a hard trail with little shade and the sun coming down on your skin. Arrived at the entrance at 6:30 am and it was the best decision because by 8 am the sun was beaming. Beautiful views with a great feeling of accomplishment afterwards. I Recommend getting there super early no later than 7 if you want to avoid the sun and enjoy the sunrise

Was a difficult hike but the views along the way is fantastic specially seeing clouds beneath you!

Tough but quick. Good training hike.

This is a tough trail because it is uphill for majority of the hike. But it's a good workout due to the huge elevation change. The trail gets very crowded on weekends and has little shade. Bring water to keep hydrated. Enjoyed the hike on this trail.

backpacking
25 days ago

We started at Castle Rock instead of Saratoga Gap. This was highly recommended by the rangers and afforded us beautiful scenic views on Day 1 until meeting up with the traditional trail which mostly follows the highway for the first day.

Day 1: Starting from Castle Rock, hiked 9.5 miles to Waterman Gap Camp. Super remote, but had a bathroom and water spout so it was perfect. Campsite 1 is the best!
Day 2: Hiked another 9/10 miles to Jay Camp in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. There are facilities here and it is not as remote but still great.
Day 3: The last ~ 10 miles take you back to Waddell Beach. A much recommended detour visits Berry Creek Falls. We actually ended this night at a beach in Davenport at the main stoplight across the highway from the restaurants. There were fire pits for a bonfire and we stayed the night on the beach. This was actually our favorite night.

The trail is closer to 30 miles than 25. We parked one car at Waddell Beach and another at Castle Rock since there is NO SHUTTLE and none of us had phone service either. The start and end points are roughly one hour away from each other driving.

WEATHER was GREAT, btw. We slept half in our bags as we had really warm nights even now in mid-October. Overall a great trip and I highly recommend it for this time of year when it is really cold elsewhere.

backpacking
27 days ago

Did it in one day, starting at Hwy 9 and 35 , finishing at Waddell Beach. Its around 29-30miles, not 25. Took us 9.5hrs excluding 2 breaks to eat and tape up our feet. Would have done it in 2 days but Big Basin is reservation only and books 2 months in advance so book early.

Per person you need 3 liters of water to do this trail.
For parking, you can do the parking at the start of the trail. I got lucky twice.
You can also park on Vineyard Avenue, this adds up a little bit more of a hike but beats going to Ohlone.

If you take Peak Meadow trail it is nicer, the trail is less wide and less people. In some spots there is shade. Basically where you see the river in the map is where you have shade and can stop for a little picnic or a break.

I usually do this trail all the way to mission peak.
Then if I am tired of lazy I do the hidden valley back
if I am in no hurry I take the peak meadow route back.
Hidden valley as others mention has no shade but is faster.

There is a stretch at horses heaven trail which is very steep, this is easy going up but is tricky going down. If you are not comfortable with steep downhill. I'd bring a walking stick or poles
and make sure your shoes can catch the track
one time I brought flat-ish shoes and that was a disaster.

Mahalo

My favorite backyard hiking area! Easily end up with 15-20 miles. Coastal scenery is top notch, especially sunrise/sunset hikes. Lots of challenging hills to choose from. Great day hike

Parking at Stanford lot was not an option even at 7:30 in the morning. We used the alternate lot at Ohlone college. The hike got about 2.5 miles longer. Hardly any shade. No view either until got to the summit.
By the way, It was very crowded. Near the summit the trail was narrow you’ll have to maneuver for people resting as well as people on the opposite direction.

Completed the trail in 2 nights & 3 days. 1st day hiking was harder than the other 2 days. Basin was crowded.

Tip: A couple people thought to break in their shoes on this trail = lots of blisters. Also, bring poles if you have bad knees = lots of downhill.

be patience. the view from the top is rewarding. but on the way up from horse tsil is dry and nothing so be prepared. make sure to bring water cuz there is limited shade. it's a nice training trail.

backpacking
1 month ago

Started at Castle Rock HQ, ended at Waddell Beach and loved every minute of this hike. Camped at Waterman Gap and then Jay camp and both were in good shape and nice. Thanks to our awesome state park rangers, staff and volunteers! Definitely would do this again.

trail running
1 month ago

Super fun. Ran skyline to sea marathon with Pacific Coast Trail Runs. Very fun event. Highly recommend.

Scenery: 2
Views: 4
Difficulty: 4
Crowds: 5
Shade: 1

My 1-5 Rating Scale Comparisons for above:
5 for Scenery; Mcway Falls Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
4.5 for Scenery: Berry Creek Falls Big Basin State Park
4 for Scenery: Steep Ravine Trail

5 for Views: Nimitz Trail Tilden Park
5 for Views: Ridge Trail San Bruno Mtn Park
4.5 for Views Montara Mtn Summit San Pedro County Park
4 for Views Rancho Canada Del Oro Bald Peaks trail

5 for Difficulty: Junipero Serra Peak
4 for Difficulty: Mount El Sombroso Loop Trail

Definitely a hard trail. All uphill with little shade. Took about an hour and fifteen minutes (with plenty of rests) to the peak. The views of the bay are amazing the whole way up.

Go super early to beat the heat and parking! Bring a decent amount of water to stay hydrated on your way up!

Windy and cooler up at the top, great photo op

Very good hike to prepare you for any hard hikes you have planned!!
I’ve used it to prepare me for Half Dome and Sedona.
I enjoy the hike at least once a week in the Horse Heaven Trail, it is less congested with people.

Too crowded

Accept it as your first challenge

Did 11 miles out and back since I couldn’t get a ride home from the beach. Downhill helps but there are some climbs for sure. Take plenty of water.

It is a great place for trail running, could be crowded mornings and evenings

This was really hard. The views of the bay were pretty cool, but the views while hiking were kind of dull. Just a lot of dry grass and cows. The trail is well maintained. Watch out for cow dung and bees!

Great hike, good views.. would be better if it for the smoke :-(

typical fire road trail hike. quite steep and little to no shade.

good hike if your looking for a workout. go as early as possible to beat the crowds. At a maderate pace finished on just over an hour.

There are so many trails; even though we follow the direction, we still got lost 3 times and had to trek back. At one point the trail showed on the map/GPS doesn’t exist. Wasn’t sure I was going to make it through; but I did, yay! We got some sun, fog, and rain, too during our hike. Was a great hike though - loved it.

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