First – Nuthin’ but the facts…
Type of hike: Out and back
Difficulty: 6 – (climbing but well graded on nice trail and relatively short)
Trail grade: 9 ‘cept for near the top… becomes say a 5 with a little bouldering
Trail use: Hardly anyone on the trail but it was raining
Highest elevation: ~2150 (starts at 1000′)
Total climbing: 1238′
Round trip distance: 4.4 miles
How long: About 2 1/2 hours including time at the top
Quality of views: Cloudy… no view but I’m sure it’s awesome
Weather conditions when we did it: Rainy, windy,
Red tape: $10 State Park Day Use pass unless you have one of these cool passes
Maps we used: Green Trails and State Park Map
Water: Bring what you need
Restrooms: Bathrooms at park headquarters
Parking: Yes – however on a normal day, Big Basin is very crowded so go early. After lots are full, you will have to wait until someone leaves.
How to get there:
From Santa Cruz, take Highway 9 to Boulder Creek. Then left onto 236. Stay on 236 until you arrive at the park.
Now for what happened on our junket… Additional pictures
So… what were WE thinking?! It was raining… and had BEEN raining for quite some time… We were still wanting to get out and do something though. A few ideas were batted around… Fall Creek? Henry Cowell? Our usual local hikes? No, let’s do something different. We had just gotten a Limited Use Golden Bear Pass and were dyin’ to use it… so I came up with the genius idea of going to Big Basin and hike to Buzzard’s Roost… Did I mention that it was raining?.. As the name sort of implies, it’s kind of a view point. But it hardly even occurred to me that the view might not be all that great on a rainy day… But like I said, we were pretty desperate to get out, so off we went.
The Limited Use Golden Bear Pass is a fun pass to have cuz with it, it’s free to use the California state parks nine months out of the year… We’d never used it before so I wasn’t sure what to do. But once we got to the park, I just showed em the pass and they cheerfully gave me a little ticket to put on my windshield… Wow! It actually worked! And it was easy. No muss, no fuss… no additional fees. Sah-weeet! And since it was raining, we were among the few who ventured into the park so there was lots of parking to choose from. Usually parking at Big Basin is a bitch.
Now for the hike… Well like I said, it was raining… pretty hard actually… Donna usually wears a poncho when it’s raining so that’s what she put on. I like ponchos too, but recently I’ve been playing around with using an umbrella for hiking in the rain. So I went with that but carried my poncho just in case.
There are a labyrinth of trails in Big Basin so we carefully wove our way through the various intersections to get to our trail up to Buzzard’s Roost… hmmm… probably would be nice to tell you here which trails to use to get to the one that takes you to the top, huh? But I wasn’t really paying attention. We just used the map they gave us and figured it out. Next time we do this (and there will be a next time), I’ll take notes and update this post with the information. Sorry… All I can say for now is to be careful with your navigation. There are lots of choices. It’s probably easier than I’m making it sound but it was harder than I expected.
Anyway… once we crossed the Blossom Creek Bridge, we were mostly on our way.
Not long after the creek crossing the trail starts relentlessly up… and up … and up. But as ‘ups’ go, it’s an okay kinda up. The trail is well graded. I was guessing at a pretty steady 10%. But that’s an average.
The trail is very nice until you get near the top… within a few hundred feet of elevation from the high point, the trail goes from a pleasant, duffy, flat surface to being pretty rocky and uneven. And there are also a couple points where you literally have to rock climb… pretty minor rock climbing but still, it’s not actually hiking anymore. I think it would have been pretty easy if the rock were dry. There would have been plenty of traction. But we were climbing this rock in the rain. Both our sphincters were a little puckered at times as we made our way up.
Finally we made it to the actual Roost.
It’s pretty cool up there. We were trying to imagine the views. I’m sure we could have seen the ocean, and had a view of Big Basin park headquarters, Eagle Rock, maybe Chalk Mountain… and who knows what else. But not today…
We didn’t stay on the top all that long cuz even though it wasn’t raining much at that moment, the wind was blowin’ us around and we were both getting cold.
This is an ‘out and back’ so goin’ back was the same as the way up ‘cept easier. It started raining again though so out came the umbrella… Was totally dumping when we got back to the car. A nice warm shower felt heavenly when we got home.