This last weekend, I went backpacking with Jeremy Shapiro and David Signoff in Big Basin Park (see trail map). There is a trail named "Skyline to the Sea" which starts up in the Santa Cruz Mountains and ends up on the Beach at Highway 1. We didn't follow this trail most of the way, although we pretty much started and ended at the same places. Instead, we took a little longer route that involved alot more elevation change. Kicked the crap out of me, but was alot of fun.
Day 1, our hike started at the Big Basin Park headquarters up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, following Sunset trail for the first half of the day and passing by 3 waterfalls. We sat down and had lunch at the first waterfall, spotting some newts in the water at the base. The trail then hits Waddell Creek and meets up with Skyline to the Sea which we followed from there. Shortly thereafter, it turns into a fire road following the creek all the way to the ocean. We camped at Twin Redwoods camp, about 2 miles before you get to the ocean. After setting up camp, we took some water and finished the trail down to the ocean where there were a few dozen windsurfers having a blast. After getting tired of being blown in the face with sand, we hiked back up to camp for the night, made dinner, popcorn, and a little bourbon. About 11 miles to camp, plus 4 round trip to the ocean for 15 miles today.
Day 2, We woke up a little late, had breakfast and made camp. Retracing our steps the previous day, we hiked north along skyline to the sea until reaching McCrary Ridge trail. McCrary Ridge has a nice sign reading "Trail Recommended for horse use only, very steep climbs.". It wasn't kidding, around a 20% average grade (~1,700 ft gain in 2 miles) and there was a decent bit of flat, so lots of higher grade mixed in for fun. Still, the views from the ridge were very nice. Being probably the only hikers there that day, we spotted some illegal burning over on a nearby ridge and Jeremy called it into the park rangers. At the tail end of McCrary ridge, we took a connector back to Sunset and rode sunset back to the park HQ. A little shorter distance, but a slower uphill pace, we did around 10 miles on Day 2.
All in all, around 25 miles in 2 days. 3 Waterfalls, mountain vistas, and an ocean beach. Not a bad way to spend a weekend. All the photos are up on picasa.