Rancho Del Oso and Skyline To The Sea Trail Backpacking

The trail begins at Castle Rock State Park, and passes though Big Basin Redwoods State Park and ends 33 miles later at Waddell Beach. Two trail maps in a topographic format cover that cover the entire system are available for purchase at the park office. A Big Basin Trail Map that covers everything but the Castle Rock area is available at the park.

We strongly recommend having these maps in your possession while planning your backpack trail camp trip! The elevation changes and mileages between trail camps vary. Trail camps are designated for enroute camping, which means you must stay in a different trail camp each night of your planned trip. Water is available at only a FEW locations. The maps will help you take all of these factors into consideration prior to making your reservations!

If offices are closed on your arrival, use the "Iron Ranger" envelopes to pay fees.

  • Bring EXACT CHANGE with you.

  • Leave the payment envelope flap on the dash of your vehicle.
  • If you are parking a second (extra) vehicle, pay for it where it is parked.
  • Use a separate Iron Ranger envelope for each vehicle.
  • There are three major starting points on the trail system: Castle Rock, Big Basin and Waddell Beach. Depending on the section of trail and trail camps you plan on using, one of these will likely be your starting point. Each of these trailheads have somewhat different registration procedures.

    Park your vehicle in the parking lot off Highway 35, approximately 3 miles south of the Hwy 9 and Hwy 35 junction. Use the self-registration "Iron Ranger" envelopes to register. Put the name reservation was made under on the outside of the envelope, also vehicle license plate number being left in the parking lot.

    Register, pay trail camp fees and get trail permit at the Big Basin Park Headquarters during office hours, or at the "Iron Ranger" located at the entrance to the day use area. When you register, you will get directions where to park your vehicle/vehicles.

    Park entrance is directly opposite the Waddell Beach parking lot - NORTH side of Waddell Creek. (NOT the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center entrance!) The gate is always closed but not locked. Do not leave vehicles at the Nature Center, along Highway 1, or in the beach parking lot. Use the self-registration "Iron Ranger" envelopes to register.

    Important Trail Camp Notes


  • NO FIRES are allowed in the Backpack Trail Camps - Backpack stoves ONLY!
  • The only exception to this rule is the Castle Rock Campground where fires are allowed during the winter months (normally Dec-May), in the provided fire rings.

  • Water is available ONLY at CASTLE ROCK, WATERMAN GAP, and JAY CAMP.
  • All other camps have no potable water provided!
  • Dogs are NOT ALLOWED in any of the trail camps or on any trails

  • Reservations for the
    trail camps are required