This is a tremendously fun area to go backpacking in even though you will not be alone. The trip we did is along the "Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail" which connects Castle Rock and Big Basin Redwoods State Parks. (North of Santa Cruz, CA) Well I have to start this trip description by saying that our original plans were to hike from Jay Camp to Waddell Beach over the course of two nights. Those plans fell through (Not all bad as it turned out because it was raining pretty good the day we were supposed to have left). What we decided to do was to use our reservation at Twin Redwoods camp Saturday night (North end of the red line on the topo map) by hiking in from the beach side.
trailhead is 4 miles North of Davenport (opposite Waddell Beach and
North of Waddell Creek). There is a closed gate and a paved road but
the gate is not locked. Simply open the gate (closing it behind you)
and drive to the parking lot. Use the iron ranger to register and pay
for your stay. One thing with the trails in this region is they are
popular and reservations are required by calling (831) 338-8861. (They
are open Tuesday through Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.) The charge is 10 bucks
per night for 1 vehicle and up to 6 people (there is also a $5 reservation
I went on this trip with my friend Leo and his brother in law, David. The hike in to Twin Redwoods was short but fun (even though the trail was muddy and slippery in spots because of the rain the previous few days). From the trailhead you see the sign above stating the distances to some of the camps and falls (It also tells you to stay off the road) I found the distance to Twin Redwoods camp to be closer to 1.5 miles than the posted 1.2. But who is counting. The trail immediately starts climbing. When you look back after climbing a while the views of the beach were amazing. The trail is shaded and the colors are almost overwhelming.
The rains did take their toll on the trail. Leo and David are standing in the hole created by a giant tree tumbling over. The big dark mass on the left is the root structure of this tree. You can tell how much moisture these mountains get by the amount of greenery. Most of this trail is covered in some fashion by foliage. There are a lot of ferns and of course Sequoia sempervirens (redwoods).
Before we knew it we had hit camp. I really couldn't believe how short 1.5 miles is. After setting up camp and enjoying a nice lunch we decided to trek on to Berry Creek Falls (about 5 miles further down the trail and shown in gray on the topo map).
Along the way to the falls we saw more signs of the wet season. This sign is warning us to stay clear of the washed out side of the trail. David is by the sign. One drawback of the trail is the mountain bikers on the trail. I really think the scenery makes up for the whizzing by of the bikers. Most of the bikers I saw on the trail were responsible enough to slow down when passing us.
There are a few river crossings along the way (even one bridge). The trail follows Waddell Creek the whole way to the falls. None of the crossings were difficult and you don't even need to worry about taking your boots off.
After a glorious hike we made it to the falls. Thanks to the rain over the preceding days Berry Creek Falls treated us to a glorious showing. We lingered around the falls for a bit enjoying the view from the top as well as the bottom of the falls before deciding to head back to camp before it got to dark (Of course I think that we were all a bit hungry and looking forward to a good dinner). Before leaving we all took a turn in front of the amazing backdrop.
We made it back to camp and had a great dinner. We proceeded to lay around camp snacking and chatting. I think we stayed up to around eleven before the sound of the creek and the darkness finally convinced us to head off to bed. The next morning was glorious. We all slept in until the Stellar Jays told us it was time to get up.
David had an idea for hanging the packs up that night that made a great shot. He used a short length of rope and a carabineer to make a pretty nice way to keep your stuff of the wet ground.
Here is a shot of Leo packing that morning.
All things considered this was a great trip. If you are looking for a really easy backpack I would say that camping at either Alder or Twin Redwoods is fine, but if you are looking to challenge yourself try backpacking into Sunset camp (approx 7 miles). The views along the way will keep you going (You pass Berry Creek Falls). You could also do a one way trip if you leave from Big Basin Park Headquarters and hike West to Sunset trail camp (about 5.5 miles). After spending the night at Sunset you could hike out the 7 miles to Waddell beach.
Here we are getting ready to leave in Leo's multi-purpose Honda Civic. It is amazing how much gear this little car can swallow.