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Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail

30 Miles of Magic through the Santa Cruz Mountains

At the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains above Saratoga, where Highway 9 intersects Skyline Boulevard, is the beginning of 30-miles of magic called the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. Traveling the trail, you’ll experience the incredible diversity of nature as the peaks meet the Pacific. One of the organization’s proudest achievements, Sempervirens Fund began creating the trail in 1969 and partnered over the years 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” – and lived up to its name – when Sempervirens Fund preserved part of the Hoover Ranch that extended the trail to the sea at Waddell Beach in 1976. Now, the trail descends from the ridgetop vistas through meadows, crags and forests of Castle Rock State Park, then weaves through old-growth redwood forest, creeks and waterfalls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and finishes at the Pacific Ocean at Waddell State Beach with trailside campsites along the way.

Whether you hike just part of the trail or venture from the skyline to the sea, your time on the trail will help you experience the magnificence of coast redwood forests and the importance of protecting, restoring, and connecting the wildlands of the Santa Cruz Mountains for you, wildlife, and future generations to enjoy forever.

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.

Alternative Recommendation

While the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail is closed during CZU Lightning Complex fire recovery, consider a shorter backpacking trip to see some of the most remote and scenic redwoods in the region—Peter's Creek Grove. These magnificent one and a half miles of old-growth redwoods can be found in Portola Redwood State Park and are additionally protected by 33-acres of land supporters like you have helped preserve. In the future, Peter's Creek Grove may become more accessible thanks to new preserved lands like these. Until then, only a strenuous 11.9 mile hike with challenging climbs in and out–which likely protected these ancient trees from logging over a century ago–is the only way to experience what some have found to be the most awe-inspiring hike in the San Francisco Bay Area. This hike can be stretched into a backpacking trip with a stay at Slate Creek Backpacking Trail Camp on Slate Creek Trail about 2.5 miles from the Old Tree trailhead to maximize rest and enjoyment in this lovely place.

Trails: Old Tree Trail toward Slate Creek Trail, left on Bear Creek Trail, loop around the grove, and backtrack to return

Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,030 feet

Address: Portola Redwoods State Park, 9000 Portola State Park Road, La Honda, CA 94020

Hours: 6am-Sunset (in severe weather the park might be closed), Visitor Center: 9am-5pm

Directions: click here for Google maps directions

Plan Your Hike

Address: Castle Rock State Park, Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance, 15451 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95033

Hours: The station at the Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, daily.

NOTE: The Kirkwood Entrance gate is closed and locked every day at sunset.

Directions: click here for Google maps directions

Park Activities

If you’d like to hike from the Skyline-to-the-Sea, here are resources to help you plan your trip:

Sempervirens Fund continues to protect lands and help expand parks like those connected by the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, including the recently preserved Castle Rock West property and the new Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance at Castle Rock State Park. But we can’t save the Santa Cruz Mountains for generations to come without volunteers and supporters like you.

Volunteer

Throughout the year, Sempervirens Fund holds a variety of volunteer events, including invasive species removal, trail clean ups, and more! Check out our Volunteer Page for more information.

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