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Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail

Connecting Parks and People

One of Sempervirens Fund’s proudest achievements is the creation of the 30-mile Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail which travels from the crests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the crests of waves in the Pacific Ocean through protected wildlands. The Trail begins in Castle Rock State Park, winds through Big Basin State Park, and ends at Waddell State Beach, inviting hikers to enjoy the redwood forests, waterfalls, and beaches Sempervirens Fund supporters have protected since 1900. Although Sempervirens Fund’s work on the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail began in 1969 and completed in 1976, we continue to preserve land along the Trail to protect the forest and its wildlife habitat as well as expand recreational opportunities to help people experience and connect with the redwoods for generations to come.

In August and September 2020, the CZU Lightening Fire Complex burned more than 86,000 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is one of the many parks that has been affected. Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is currently closed due to damage caused by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires until further notice. Sempervirens Fund is working with California State Parks to help support the immediate and long-term needs of the Park. You can read more about redwoods recovery and restoration here and throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Building the Trail

Sempervirens Fund began building the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail in 1969 and worked over the years in partnership with California State Parks, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, and volunteers from many trail organizations. The route was officially named the “Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail” when Sempervirens Fund purchased several properties for Big Basin Redwoods State Park, including part of the Hoover Ranch which is now the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center, that extended the Trail to the sea at Waddell State Beach in 1976. The years of work and collaboration were well worth the effort. The completed Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail offers an incredibly diverse tour of the redwood world descending from ridgetop vistas through meadows, crags, and forests of Castle Rock State Park; weaving through old-growth redwood forest, creeks, and waterfalls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park; and emerging at the Pacific Ocean at Waddell State Beach.

Today, the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is one of the most popular backpacking trails in the San Francisco Bay Area, inviting people near and far to experience the magnificence of coast redwood forests, and to understand why they are so critical to protect for wildlife and future generations. Sempervirens Fund continues to protect land near the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail to provide connected habitat that plants and wildlife need to thrive and recreational opportunities so people can enjoy them. Here is one of the most recent properties Sempervirens Fund supporters have preserved forever along the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.

Castle Rock West

Next to Castle Rock State Park and the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, Castle Rock West’s 50 acres of coast redwood forest was one of the last unprotected inholdings of the Park until Sempervirens Fund preserved them in 2018. Castle Rock West is just north of the Waterman Gap campground, an important stopover for backpackers along the 30-mile Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. The property lies within the natural watershed boundary of Castle Rock State Park and could help to support recreation along the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail with visitor amenities in the future.

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