Nice day hike to a mountain top overlooking the Pacific ocean and Ano Nuevo State Preserve. Highlights include redwood forests and the distinct chalky ridges and mountain tops. Also, may include Waterfalls and beautiful riparian habitat depending upon route taken.
Four different trailhead options.
1) Easiest - Whitehouse Road trail approx. 22 mi. north of Santa Cruz off Hwy One, turn inland go about 2 miles to a small parking area and signs warning not to drive further on a private road. Trail heads up hill to the south. (trail length approx. 4 miles rt)
2) Ranch Del Oso trailhead at Waddell Beach, approx. 20 miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway One. Part on the highway near the gate. (trail = 8+ miles rt)
3) Big Basin State Park Headquarters on State Hwy 236. Parking only allowed in pay parking area near Museum/Store/Giant Redwood loop etc..(trail = 10+ miles rt) (Mountain bike option = longer)
4)You can also leave from the "Costanoa" resort on highway One, for a very civilized outing, where you can eat fine foods with you're coffee drink. Or stay in a luxury tent cabin for the night. The concierge can direct you to the trail right from the resort. (approx. 6 miles rt)
Bush-wacking not advised, unless you like crawling on your belly through scrub and poison oak.
Parking fee at State Park headquarters, other trail heads free.
No Dogs (State park policy).
Mountain bikes can make it (legally) from Big basin headquarters on fire roads, but be sure to get a map because there's many unsigned junctions. ("Sempervirens Fund" maps are the best I've found)
Mountain bikes can also ride up Waddell creek on a dirt road for approx. 6 miles, bring a lock to lock your bike and hike up the trail the last mile to Berry Creek Falls, or further if you desire.
Bring water, there's none available at the back country camps, or on the ridges.
Many back-country (and car camping options) in Big basin State Park. (see link)
Big Basin State Park:
April 14, 2008
Nice loop up Waddell Creek, then up the Berry Creek Falls trail past all the beautiful waterfalls. (Spring run-off time is best) Then up past Sunset Camp on Anderson fire road to to Chalk Mtn Fire Road, turn left and wander along the ridge tops through the "Chalks" (my favorite part) to Chalk Mountain (Great 360 deg. views). There are two summits within about about 1/2 mile of each other, each with small cell towers. The view is better from the most westerly (lower?) summit, but the eastern summit is more pleasant and has it's own little outhouse. Head down Westridge trail to Wadddle creek. (nice flowers in spring))
Note: It can get very hot, so be sure to bring enough H2O! (I drank 3 liters) I did it in about 5 1/2 hours, but I suggest going slower. (I think it's about 16 miles around the whole loop)