Share:

Skyline To The Sea Loop

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

Start Exploring
Skyline To The Sea Loop

Share:

Advertisement
  • Parking is outside the park gate on the shoulder across the highway from Waddell Beach or in the Waddell Beach parking lot.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • A sign marks the entrance to the trail. Keep in mind only campers with reservations and visitors with disabilities are permitted to drive into the small parking area inside the gate.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Hoover Grove scenic area on the walk to the ranger the station.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • The ranger station, open limited hours, marks the starting point for the Skyline to the Sea Loop Trail.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • A vault toilet, water, interpretive sign, and self-pay station for campers are located at the ranger station and trailhead area.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • There are a few informational signs around the ranger station, but there are few once the trail begins.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Though hikers can head onto the loop in either direction, heading up the main trail and returning on the bypass reserves much of the scenic singletrack for later.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Hiking up the main Skyline to the Sea Trail initially follows a dirt road leading to a couple of private residences in the valley.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • The dirt road parallels a working farm.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Once it passes the residences, the path stays wide and packed down. It also begins to pass through a much more scenic area.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Redwood groves are only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean along the trail.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • A seasonal bridge helps hikers cross Waddell Creek. - Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • There are several areas near the crossing along Waddell Creek that make for nice stops along the hike.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • At an intersection with trails heading further into the park's interior.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • The bypass trail is singletrack with a lot more elevation variation, and it heads past stands of redwoods in the park's hills.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Standing beside a coast redwood along the bypass trail.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • At its higher elevations the trail opens up to views across the valley, including this spot overlooking the coast.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • The is much more diversity in plantlife along the bypass trail.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Singletrack past oak trees along the bypass trail.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • The bypass trail generally remains hard dirt, though there are some slippery spots along this trail.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • Completing the loop at the Skyline to the Sea Trail.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
  • One benefit to hiking the bypass trail out and returning on the primary trail is that the trail maps list places of interest sequentially in that direction.- Skyline To The Sea Loop
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Diversity of fauna along the hike. Scenic creek. Backcountry camping opportunities.
Cons: 
Strong presence of poison oak.
Advertisement
Region:
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Highest point: 
246.00 ft (74.98 m)
Net Elevation Gain: 
240.00 ft (73.15 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.20 mi (6.76 km)
Total elevation gain: 
423.00 ft (128.93 m)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
7.00 ft (2.13 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
Advertisement
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The Skyline to the Sea Loop Trail follows a portion of the 31-mile long Skyline to the Sea Trail, but it incoprorates a bypass trail to create a shorter 4.2-mile loop trail beginning and ending near Waddell Beach. Exploring the southwestern edge of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which is California's oldest state park, the Skyline to the Sea Loop begins within view of the Pacific and heads up a wide trail along Waddell Creek before leaving development behind and entering the interior of the forested state park. 

Working farms and private residences mark the beginning of the hike, but redwood groves begin to tower above the dense forest floor as the trail reaches the interior, and backcountry campsites are located along the serene creekside. A bridge crosses the creek as the trail hits an intersection with trails heading deeper into the park. The Skyline to the Sea Bypass Trail splits off here, and it begins climbing from the wet forest floor to the dry oak-lined hillside above the valley floor. 

Stands of coast redwood dot the oak and grass forest as the trail meanders along the hillside, occasionally opening up to views across the valley or out to the sea. The bypass trail rolls and weaves as it eventually makes its way back to the trailhead at the ranger station.

Hike in a counterclockwise direction and taking the bypass trail on the return saves some of the best scenery for last. There are maps offered at the Bypass Trailhead, and they correspond with numbered posts along the hike if you decide to hike in a clockwise direction.

The bridge at the creek crossing is seasonal, and hikers may have to get wet when crossing the creek in winter when the flows are higher. Dogs and bicycles are allowed on the primary Skyline to the Sea Trail to the backcountry campgrounds; however, neither are allowed on the Bypass Trail. Vault toilets are available at the campgrounds. Note that there is heavy poison oak along the bypass trail. Hikers should be careful.

Parking at the ranger station is resricted to those with reservations for the backcountry campgrounds or by prior arrangement. All others must park outside the gate. There is parking available on the shoulder of Highway 1 opposite Waddell Beach and adjacent to the park entrance gate or at the Waddell Beach parking lot, which is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. Water, vault toilets, and trash are available outside the ranger station, located 0.7 miles in from the parking area at Highway 1.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Download
Advertisement
Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(17 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(96 within a 30 mile radius)

Advertisement
Related Content

Related Content

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
9 Members
Who's Done It
1 Members
Submission by
Pro Contributor
385 Adventures Explored
385 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info