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Trip Descriptions

This 3-night, 4-day outing from Castle Rock to Waddell State Beach takes you on the legendary journey that has been a favorite of backpackers for 40 years. This trek spans 30+ miles of stunning ridgeline panoramas, mixed oak, madrone and redwood forests, riparian habitats, grassy meadows, spring-fed waterfalls, ending on the soft sandy beach. Adventurers will hike up to 10 miles a day, up steep hills and over sunny ridges on this challenging trip. This is the quintessential Santa Cruz Mountains backpacking experience.


Cost: $300
Thursday June 7 through Sunday June 10, 2018
Difficulty: strenuous

Starting Location/ time: Castle Rock State Park Parking Lot; 9am
Ending Location/ time: Waddell State Beach; about 4pm
Total Mileage: approximately 33.5 miles
Day 1: Castle Rock Parking Lot to Waterman Gap Campground: approximately 10 miles
Day 2: Waterman Gap to Jay Camp via Skyline Trail: approximately 10 miles
Day 3: Jay Camp to Sunset Camp: approximately 6 miles
Day 4: Sunset Camp to Waddell State Beach: approximately 7.5 miles

*Jay Camp is located in Big Basin Headquarters and facilities include a general store and showers.


Starting in Castle Rock State Park, this 2-night, 3-day trip takes you through oak woodland ridgelines and dips into towering ancient redwoods. Experience panoramic views as you trek along the backbone of the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Cost: $225
Friday June 29 through Sunday July 1, 2018 
Difficulty: strenuous

Starting Location/time: Castle Rock State Park main parking lot; 1pm
Ending Location/time: Portola Redwoods State Park Visitor Center; about 2pm
Total Mileage: approximately 16.5 miles
Day 1: Castle Rock parking lot to Castle Rock trail camp; approximately 3 miles
Day 2: Long Ridge Open Space Preserve; approximately 10.5 miles
Day 3: Slate Creek trail camp to Portola Redwoods Visitor Center; approximately 3 miles

Starting in Butano State Park, this 3-night, 4-day trip explores relatively unknown portions of the backcountry in the Santa Cruz Mountains before touring the iconic, must see spots of Big Basin. Adventurers will travel through chaparral-covered ridgelines, moss-lined waterfalls and lush old-growth redwood groves.  A strenuous day hike to Mount McAbee rewards you with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, and provides a twist to the Butano and Beyond Expedition.
Thursday July 19 through Sunday July 22, 2018

Starting Location/ time: Butano State Park Kiosk; 9am
Ending Location/ time: Waddell State Beach; about 4pm
Total Mileage: approximately 32 miles
Day 1: Butano State Park to Butano Trail Camp; approximately 4.5 miles
Day 2: Butano Trail Camp to Sunset Trail Camp; approximately 10 miles
Day 3: Day hike to Mt. McAbee: approximately 9.5 miles
Day 4: Sunset Trail Camp to Waddell State Beach; approximately 8 miles

On this 1-night, 2-day trip journey through Castle Rock to watch shooting stars in the quiet and darkness of the backcountry. While the highlight of this exploration is the meteor shower, daylight brings panoramic ocean and mountain views as you hike through oak woodlands and chaparral-covered ridgelines. 


Cost: $125
Sunday August 12 through Monday August 13, 2018 
Difficulty: moderate

Starting Location/ time: Castle Rock State Park parking lot; 9am
Ending Location/ time: Castle Rock State Park parking lot; 4pm
Total Mileage: approximately 10.5 miles
Day 1: Castle Rock State Park parking lot to Castle Rock Trail Camp; approximately 3 miles
Day 2: Castle Rock Trail Camp to Castle Rock State Park parking lot; approximately 3 miles


All mileage is based on the 2015 edition of the Redwood Hikes map of the Bay Area. Some GPS and other personal trackers may provide alternative mileage results.

Participants must be able to hike 2-3 miles/hour with a 20lb pack.


  • WE provide:
    - water filters
    - hot water for AM/PM meals
    - traditional teas
    - *Shuttle between start and ending location for: Skyline to the Sea, Ridges to Redwoods, and Trek through Time.
  • YOU provide:
    transportation to starting location
    - bring all your own food
    - be able to hike up to 10 miles per day
    - tent/sleeping bag/ sleeping pad
    - all equipment on checklist