- Nov 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm #1266008
Jim and I took a three day hike of roughly 65 miles during Thanksgiving week. There was a weather forecast for three days of clear cool weather, so we took advantage of a break in the rain and walked to Santa Cruz. We had a very nice walk. By Bay Area standards it was cold (down in the 20s at night), the last day of the hike was a record low for many nearby towns. But the skies were blue and the air was clear. From our campsite at the top of a hill in Big Basin the Farallon Islands were clearly visible ~ 60 miles away.
Link to Google Map (gmap-pedometer) allowing you to zoom in on details of the route, satellite images, etc. The line follows our route, but is only approximate in some places. (If you double click in gmap it will extend the route, which will make you quite confused.)
Home to the corner of Arastradero and Deer Creek Roads in Palo Alto via a local bus.
Walk to Santa Cruz.
Bus back to San Jose CalTrain station.
There is a series of parks that abut each other, forming a nearly continuous trail corridor between the two towns.
City of Palo Alto Arastradero Preserve
City of Palo Alto Foothills Park
Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District Preserves:
— Los Trancos Open Space Preserve (OSP)
— Monte Bello OSP
— Skyline Ridge OSP
— Long Ridge OSP
Castle Rock State Park
Big Basin State Park
Henry Cowell State Park – Fall Creek Unit
Henry Cowell State Park – Redwoods Unit
City of Santa Cruz Greenbelt, Pogonip Preserve
City of Santa Cruz Harvey West Municipal Park
The first two miles in Palo Alto, and the last 3 miles in Santa Cruz was on town streets. There was another 6 miles during the walk on County Roads (Empire Grade Road and Felton Empire Road). The remaining 50+ miles miles was on trail through public park land.
MAKING IT LONGER???
We have now taken four hikes that could be linked into one long Bay Area mega-hike of about 350 miles. Palo Alto to Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz to San Francisco, San Francisco to Point Reyes, Point Reyes Peninsula Circumamblation, and finally Point Reyes to Sausalito. Sausalito to San Francisco by ferry and CalTrain home to Palo Alto.
Information about each of these trips is included in our SmugMug gallery.
Amy L, Palo AltoNov 28, 2010 at 5:50 pm #1668770Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
Wow! Lovely photos, you are fortunate to have such a diverse region close at hand to get out into. As usual, I enjoyed your photographs, thanks for sharing.Nov 28, 2010 at 9:14 pm #1668874David LutzMember
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
That's incredible Amy…..I had no idea there was a trail route from Big Basin into Santa Cruz.Nov 29, 2010 at 6:31 am #1668970
Unfortunately, the weak link in the trail system is between Big Basin and Henry Cowell State Parks. I had that info buried in the photo show, and I just edited my original post to clarify that piece of road walking.
Between Eagle Rock (at the southern boundary of Big Basin Park) and Henry Cowell Park we walked on Empire Grade Road for 5 miles. And then between the two units of Big Basin (Fall Creek Unit and Redwoods unit) we walked for a mile through the town of Felton.
You can, however, get from Arastradero Preserve to Eagle Rock without any road walking.Nov 29, 2010 at 11:31 am #1669073Casey BowdenBPL Member
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
Amy, thank you for sharing this unique trip.Dec 1, 2010 at 8:01 am #1669727Steven McAllisterBPL Member
@brooklynkayakLocale: Arizona, US
Great info and photos.
Sometimes road walks are OK, if they aren't too long and aren't stressful/dangerous roads. Also, resupply is easy, need need to carry a lot of food:-)
Looks like lots of great options in the area.Jan 1, 2017 at 9:12 pm #3442772
We have published an updated version of this trip report with a better map on our website DoingMiles.com. Cheers, Amy and James.Sep 10, 2019 at 11:47 pm #3609742Ana PBPL Member
Amy – Just wanted to thank you and James for your website. I’ve had the pleasure of discovering it in search of local hikes (I moved to Palo Alto from Boston 3 months ago), and it’s been a great resource for me). Thinking of doing the PA->SC walk soon!
Ana (“Shivers”)Sep 11, 2019 at 12:28 am #3609746Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I am on a volunteer committee for the MidPen Open Space District. I had a side bar conversation with the asst GM in charge of property about why the District only had one backpacking camp. The answer was lack of demand.
The District is now the largest landowner in San Mateo County and owns a lot of land in the Santa Cruz Mtns. There is a plan on buidling connections for a Saratoga to the Sea trail. There are also plans to link the ridge open spaces to the sea via trails. But no plans for camps.
If anyone has ideas on locations for backcountry camps perhaps more primitive than the one at Black Mtn (which has piped non-potable water and a public telephone!), please message me.
BruceSep 11, 2019 at 6:25 am #3609769PedestrianBPL Member
Re: campsites on MROSD properties: I recently was speaking to a MROSD Ranger about this.
He said that they had planned a campsite up near (the recently opened) Mt Um area. Unfortunately the local residents around that site opposed it for fear of the potential for accidental fires set by careless campers.
Those hills are guaranteed to burn at some point as they surely have in the past. If I lived up there, I’d be concerned about fires too. The access roads in and out of those hillside communities are narrow and winding. Evacuation in the event of a fire could be a nightmare.
I routinely see Calfire ground crews conduct training drills up on the trails on the hills nearby and also see Calfire choppers pick up water from Lexington reservoir and do practice runs over the same hills.Sep 11, 2019 at 7:08 am #3609772Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
The Santa Cruz Mountains host at least 11 legal public backpacking camp sites. Some of those camps have operated for over 40 years. AFAIK none have been the source of a wildfire. On the other hand, any road open to careless smokers, trailers dragging chains, or faulty exhaust systems is a proven source of wildfire ignition.
“No demand” for more MROSD sites – they never gave a hint that they might be willing to entertain the idea! It’s taken them decades to open some properties for limited day hiking.
I spent 20 years backpacking and day hiking in those mountains before figuring out how to make this ~100 mile Palo Alto to the Pacific loop work with legal campsites: https://tinyurl.com/100mileloop
Some of the state park backpacking sites on that loop were closed for years. A few more sites would be wonderful. Seems silly to build several proposed “bay to sea” trails of 50 miles or longer without campsites.
But that’s just me.
— RexSep 11, 2019 at 3:18 pm #3609799Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
“Seems silly to build several proposed “bay to sea” trails of 50 miles or longer without campsites.”
Exactly.Sep 11, 2019 at 3:19 pm #3609800PedestrianBPL Member
I personally would love to see more campsites on MROSD (and other) preserves around here.
What I expressed above is the outcome of one attempt at providing camping facilities in a stellar area operated by MROSD. But these are real issues that land managers face: public opinion of surrounding communities.
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