A CHAOS hike led by Val Z and Mark M, and joined by Chris C, Robert P, Dan Vanatta, and Jacki W. Planned as a somewhat enhanced completion of the lower half of the Skyline to the Sea Trail (below Big Basin Redwood State Park headquarters). Starting from Waddell Beach, taking the ridge up and across to the HQ, then following the S2S Trail directly back to the beach.
After an early start (on the road about 4am), and early arrival at the trailhead, we were on the trail at 5:45am, enjoying the moonlight on the road on the way to the junction with the Clark Connector Trail, where it was light enough to not need headlamps anymore. A steep, but even climb up that brought us to a nice viewpoint at the Westridge Trail where we took a brief pause. The Westridge Trail appears to be an old fire access road, and thus follows the ridgeline fairly exactly, with brutally steep upgrades and equally steep descents. This brought us to near Chalk Mountain where we stopped for a bit of brunch before going up to the summit (trip high point at 1609') and exploring the structures there (toilet, antenna tower, equipment shed).
The section to Sunset Camp was much more gently graded dirt roads. At Sunset Camp, we paused and considered plans for the rest of the loop, deciding to maintain the original route, but up the pace a bit. That plan lasted the fraction of a mile to the upper Berry Creek falls, where we decided to follow that trail down to the S2S Trail and return to the Sunset Trail at Timms Creek (one canyon upstream), simply because of the beauty and pleasantness of the canyon.
As it turned out, this didn't change our elevation gain overall, since the Sunset Trail goes over the ridge we went around the toe of, it did, however, add 1.5 miles to the trip. At the short Sunset/S2S Connector Trail, a couple of our party avoided the loop over the the Park Headquarters, where the rest refilled water and met them at the shortcut an hour later. From there it was the straightforward and mostly downhill S2S Trail back to the trailhead. We arrived at the trailhead at 430pm and 5pm, the early section spending the interim enjoying the sunset over the Pacific.
Finally, we indulged in an Olallieberry Pie from Duarte's in Pescadero (which was about as good as it gets) and the cars split up to disperse people to their various destinations. It was still early enough for a stop at Ebisu (my favorite sushi bar) to put a fine cap on a excellent day.
I really enjoyed this hike, partly for the interesting country, partly for the well-filled day, but mostly for the hiking with a group of congenial and strong hikers. Most of my solo hikes are solo, which is nice in its own way, but conversation and laughter is very welcome, especially at the long end of the day. Also, on a hike like this I stretch myself more than I would solo...alone, I probably would have had a lower maximum speed, but would have stopped rather less...also I would have stayed on the planned route and would have finished substantially sooner. No regrets. I would hike with any or all of you again. And any time I can finish a day at Ebisu after a long hike is a good one!
Clear and still. Warm on the ridgetops, cool in the canyons.
Long loop: About 29.5 miles, 4800 feet of ascent, 10:45 on the trail. Bunnyhike rating: 134
Short loop: About 28 miles, 4500 feet of ascent, 11:15 on the trail. Bunnyhike rating: 122
For comparison my quick dayhike up Mt. Whitney this year had a bunnyhike rating of 128, as did my Sea-to-Sky trip up Cone Peak this spring.
Area map, route in various colors
Detailed Map (170K)
High resolution scan (480K)
Alternate Maps: Skyline to the Sea-South (330K), Skyline to the Sea-West (480K)
Home . ImagesBig Basin Bunny Hike / Robert Parks / firstname.lastname@example.org / revised November '05