Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is a 26.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Los Gatos, California that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
Two of the Bay Area's most popular hiking locales -- Castle Rock and Big Basin Redwoods state parks -- promise one of the region's top backpacking experiences. A three-day, 25-plus-mile hike through these parks from the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean shows off everything to see in the South Bay woods, from the redwoods towering above to the banana slugs creeping along the forest floor. A popular version of this hike begins at the eastern terminus of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, at the intersection of Highways 9 and 35 (Saratoga Gap). The first third of Skyline-to-the-Sea tracks along a highway and is otherwise unremarkable, so a superior option is to start from the Castle Rock State Park headquarters a few miles south of the gap on Highway 35. Castle Rock offers wonderful vistas of the mountains stretching to the sea, and a safe place to park your car. The second and third days of the hike traverse ancient redwoods in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, passing the impressive Berry Creek Falls and ending at the edge of America at Waddell Beach on the Pacific Ocean.
On May 26 to 28, 2012, a group of eleven that had almost no camping or hiking hobby decided to join together for a three days hike from the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains (Watchman Gap) to the Pacific Ocean (Waddell Beach), passing through Castle Rock State Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park, 30+ miles total, and completely stressed out at the beach, but we all survived.
Many bridges are damaged or completely missing south of Big Basin HQ. Mud slides have taken the trail out on numerous hills. Until fixed, give yourself plenty of extra time and be prepared to negotiate some obstacles. Great trail though.
4 of us did this hike in one day starting from Highway 9/35 at about 6am and were at waddell beach by 6pm. Strenuous.. yes but loved every single moment of it. Highly recommended! We are not serious hikers or anything like that... just wanted to challenge ourselves. If you are thinking of doing it in 1 day, I'd say its possible. It does require some planning i.e., the day before we drove to Waddell Beach and parked one car there (can't depend on Uber/Lyft to come there) and came all the way back to Saratoga to start our hike early in morning next day. Check the iPhone/health app image (badge of honor :))
I did this with a friend about a week ago we started at 8am and got to waddle beach at 5pm to catch a nice sunset. It was a hard joke but worth doing it once. We started near tin can ranch road on highway 9 and took a short cut on the equestrian trail in stead of taking skyline to the sea to see berry falls but it met up with skyline to the sea near the end and everything was fine. We had to take the short cut in order to make it to the beach in time but the short cut is beautiful as well. Hiking the whole thing in one day is definitely a one time thing for me but it is a beautiful hike.
Big Basin via Waddell Beach is always a good time. Went out today after the rain and the creek was full and flowing fast. Everything is lush and green...GORGEOUS! Make sure you bring layers during winter and watch out for newts crossing the path.
Very chill, downhill hike. Castle rock to waterman gap. WG to Jay Camp. Jay Camp to Waddell. Shady so your solar chargers won't get much juice. Still a great "quick 3day hike. I've also hiked it in 2 days. 3 days slows you to take your time.
Started at the intersection with highway 9 under the fog. Ended up at Rancho del Oso 28km away. Mostly downhills and under the shade of the trees. Very nice run.
What a beautiful and amazing trail.
My 11-year-old son and I did this trail in a July and it was really awesome. We actually picked up the trail inside a big basin state park near the headquarters. The first day we did a 5 mile day-hike and then stayed the night at Jay camp primitive campsite.
The next day we set out for the Sunset Trail Camp via Berry Creek Falls, Silver Falls, the cascades, and golden Falls. What an awesome trip that was. The first few Miles were mostly uphill but then there was a nice downhill stretch before reaching Berry Creek Falls. Then a up again the the Sunset camp.
The last day we headed down to Waddell beach and took the hikers-only trail near the end. It was really great.
Overall this trail is ranked as Hard, but my son handled it well with sizable pack. Our route was just at 20 miles total. The scenery was beautiful and the trails were well marked. For us, this was a great trip... Off the grid but close enough to civilization that I felt pretty safe with the kiddo out there. It was a very memorable experience and we both LOVED it.
so lovely, I need my passport
Great hike, really scenic
Paths where great and the tree cover excellent to save being baked by the sun
The part of the trail that follows hwy 9 is quite dismal; hiking for several miles right next to a busy road buzzing with Harley Davidson enthusiasts is not exactly my idea of serenity. However every other part of the trail is absolutely stunning and beautiful. Would recommend.
It's possible to sneak into some of the closed campsites in Big Basin if you can't get a reservation for one of the backpacker's campgrounds there. Just set up shop after dark and leave early in order to not be spotted by the Rangers. I have never done this and I am not recommending it to anyone. ;)
Gorgeous hike along the creek when water is present (Spring is great)