Eagle Rock is a neat outcrop nestled in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Being in a remote part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it is seldom hiked, yet offers the best views in the range. Chances are that you won't see anybody at all on the trail. The rock has some Class 3 scrambling routes that lead to the summit platform, with what most people would agree to be the best view in the southern Bay Area. Looking east, Mt. Umunhum and Loma Prieta loom in the distance. On clear days, the northern end of the Santa Lucia Range can be seen over Monterey Bay. By looking west and northward, one can get a good perspective on how large the Santa Cruz Mountains actually are. Topped with an abandoned fire lookout, Eagle Rock is a great half-day adventure.
Here is a cool 360 panorama taken from Eagle Rock. Quicktime required.
There are two ways to get to Eagle Rock. One is by way of the Eagle Rock Trail, which starts on Little Basin Road. This would be the longer way. The shorter route starts on Empire Grade Road, only a half mile from Eagle Rock.
The Longer Way: Eagle Rock Trail. This is a seldom hiked narrow, steep trail that starts on Little Basin Road, off of CA route 236. From the mountain town of Boulder Creek, turn onto Highway 236 and follow it for about 6 miles and turn left onto Little Basin Road. Approximately 2 miles after the turn, you'll see a fire road that starts up on the left side of the road. Park here. You'll know if you have gone too far when you start to see "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" signs. Start up the fire road and there will be a small "No Bikes" and "No Dogs" sign on a small post. The trail quickly narrows and soon it is a steep, leaf covered path. In the first mile, it is very easy to lose the trail because it isn't hiked very much. Once the trail starts to climb along the steep sides of the creek, it becomes more defined. A rickety bridge that crosses the creek marks the half way point to Eagle Rock. As you ascend, the redwoods and ferns start to give way to a less dense pine forest. Two miles after the starting point, the small trail reaches the ridge and dumps out onto a fire road. Turn left, and walk about 1/4 mile to Eagle Rock. The rock becomes visible after you come around the first curve, and it is up to you where you want to go up. There is a small amount of Class 3 on the west side of the rock and that is clearly visible from the fire road. If you want to stay on dirt, continue on the fire road until it veers left towards the fire lookout. At this point there is a small trail to the right that leads to the summit platform. The east side of the rock is a 100 sheer face, yet it is not very suitable for fixed ropes, seeing that there is a lot if bushes on the face and there is no approach to the bottom. Find the trail and return the same way.
The Shorter Way: This route requires a small bit of trespassing from Empire Grade Road, but is only a 15 minute walk. From Boulder Creek take Highway 236 for about 3 miles to the Boulder Creek Country Club. Here, Jamison Creek Road goes left. Take JC Road and follow it up to Empire Grade Road. Turn right and travel 1/2 mile. On the right, you'll see Eagle Rock and next to you there will be a small ranch. You will know if you have gone too far because Empire Grade ends 1/2 mile after that at a "Top Secret" Military Lockheed. At the end of the ranch, there will be a gate. Park, and hop the gate, which will put you on Eagle Rock Road, which is dirt. Follow this around the ranch, and it will curve east, towards Eagle Rock. Follow it directly to the lookout tower.
Dogs and bikes aren't allowed on the Eagle Rock Trail. If you are following the route from Empire Grade, there is a small amount of trespassing on an uninhabited ranch, so the chance of being caught is small.
Fall and spring temperatures aren't very extreme. Eagle Rock can bake in the summer and freeze in the winter, so be aware.
There is no camping at Eagle Rock, however, there are numerous campsites throughout Big Basin State Park. For general information on camping throughout the Big Basin, click here.
If the rock is wet, it could be slippery, otherwise the conditions shouldn't hinder you.