I’m lucky enough to be living part time in Santa Cruz, CA. It’s only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Oakland!
I’ve been wanting to explore the Santa Cruz mountains for some time now, and I started today in Rancho del Oso, which is the lower part of Big Basin near the ocean. The Skyline-to-Sea trail which starts in Castle Rock State Park and is a 3 day hike to the ocean through Big Basin State Park ends at Waddell Beach. It’s about 20 minutes north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1.
I parked at Waddell Beach and ran across highway 1 to the trailhead to start my hike. Not as dangerous as that sounds, I could see for a mile in either direction and there were very few cars coming along at 10 in the morning.
I love history and this park has interesting history. I read that in the 1870s William Waddell was a farmer and lumberman and grizzlies roamed his pastures and threatened his cattle. His wife would sit with a shotgun and ward off bears. “Oso” means bear in Spanish. Mr. Waddell died from an infected grizzly bear bite on his leg. In 1912, Theodore Hoover, President Herbert Hoover’s brother bought the land and currently the family leases the land to organic farmers.
Anyways, so I started on my hike up the hill. And I passed along wildflowers and trees and over a small stream. Luckily, the guide I was following told me to read about the various things along the way, and at marker 5 it said there was a view. I turned around and had an amazing view of the ocean. The highlight of my hike this time though were the salamanders I saw. I tried to look up what they were, there were 2 at different points along the trail. I narrowed it down to
three different possibilities; a California newt, an Arboreal salamander, or a California giant salamander. I hiked all the way to the connector trail and then turned back to go the way I came. It was supposed to be a loop hike, but at the trailhead it was mentioned that the trail crossed Waddell Creek and the bridge had been removed and after all the rain we’ve had, I didn’t want to risk slipping while trying to cross. So that leaves another hike for another time. Heading back, I passed a group of about 15 Cal Fire trainees. Nothing to make you feel safer than a group of firemen on the trail with you!
Trail start/finish: Waddell Beach off Highway 1
Approximate mileage: 3
Trail name: Skyline to the Sea Bypass Trail
Does anyone know what kind of salamander is in my photo and does anyone have a recommendation for a good guide book for hiking in the area and where to buy it?