Tag Archives: Peak

Buzzard’s Roost on a Rainy Day

Buzzard's Roost

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.  DSC00889I 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.  DSC00851

 

 

 

 

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…

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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.

Chalk Mountain Climb

This is the first of the local peaks in our “Parade of Peaks” challenge that we climbed.  It’s 1609 feet high on the map.  But on the GPS we got 1643 or so.  Pretty much the same I guess.  I think we will definitely include this peak in our final list.

Type of climb: Out and back
Difficulty: 5
Trail grade: 7
Trail use: moderate on a weekend
Elevation gain: 1200′
Total climbing: 1440′
Round trip distance: 5.8 mi
How long: 2 hours 10 minutes RT
Quality of views: 8

Weather conditions when we did it: Clear
Red tape: None
Maps we used:
Water: None
Parking: Yes

How to get there:
From Santa Cruz, take Highway One for something like 22 miles, pass Waddell Beach and Ano Nuevo, then start looking to your left for an unmarked road called Whitehouse Road.  The road junction is across from a turnout off of the main highway.  Proceed up Whitehouse Road for 2.3 miles until you reach a small parking area and signs warning not to drive further along road as it is now private.  Park… Trail is obvious and heads directly up hill from road.

Hike description: Additional pictures
Redwood shaded trail climb with two viewpoints, to junction with ridge road.  Then road takes you to two more lookout points; the final being the top of Chalk Mountain.

The trail is a steep (at times over 20% grade), redwood shaded climb of 1.3 miles climb that gains almost 1000′ before joining a road. There are two view points along the trail during the climb up to the road.  First is at 0.5 miles, 900 feet.  The second is at 1.0 miles, 1200 feet.   Viewpoints are westward facing with views of the coast from Pidgeon Point to Ano Nuevo.   The trail intersects with the road at 1.3 miles and 1360 feet of elevation.  At mile point 2.0 (1570′ of elevation) there is a large turnout along road connected to a parking lot.  These are the best views of the hike looking south overlooking Ano Nuevo.   From here you can see the top of the climb to Chalk Mountain proper by looking carefully about a mile eastward along the ridge road to see an antenna nestled in the trees.  This is the summit of Chalk Mountain and is at 2.9 miles into the hike.  From here you can see into Big Basin and Mt McCabe (see write up) to the east.

After enjoying the views and using the outhouse (yes, there’s an actual outhouse at the top of Chalk Mountain) simply turn around and proceed back along the road, being careful not to miss where the trail leaves the road again at 4.4 miles.

Notes:

  • The first time you do this hike, you’ll probably want to go all the way to the actual top of Chalk Mountain (especially if you need to use the outhouse).  However after seeing it once, I think you can safely stop at the first lookout and get the majority of the value out of this climb.
  • There are other ways to the top of Chalk Mountain.  For instance, you can get there from Waddell Beach.  But this is something like a 14 miler with lots of up and down.  However I’ve heard that it’s gorgeous.  If you’re looking for an ordeal, try that route.
  • For those of you who are training for say hiking in the Sierra, this climb could be used as one of those ‘workout’ type climbs. In that case you could turn around at say the trail junction with the road and have your steep 1000 feet or so of climbing… or maybe jam up to the first parking lot (1570′) along the road before turning around.   There is a negligible amount of climbing after that.

 

More detail… To get there, we drove up the coast through Davenport, by Greyhound Rock, etc. until we get to Ano Nuevo Park.  Just before you get to Costa Noa there’s a no name road across from a highway turn out that turns inland.  Actually it has a name… it’s just not labeled except in very tiny letters on a transformer or whatever that is, on the side of Highway 1 is the name Whitehouse Road.

We drove pretty far along the road.  Not sure how far cuz I wasn’t paying attention.  But eventually you get to the trailhead.

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The parking area for the Chalk Mountain hike

The climb starts rather abruptly… you get out of the car, put on our hiking stuff… and right out of the gun barrel, the trail starts going up.  You start out at about 400 feet of elevation and in the next mile or so, you climb about a thousand feet… then in the half mile or so remaining,  you climb an additional say 200 feet to get to the first lookout.  I think this lookout is the best because you have a view of Ano Nuevo, Pigeon Point and out into the ocean.  As you climb you’re in lush, deep redwoods so it’s cool, and there are two vista points to pause at and take pictures.

Once you break out into the sunshine.  The trail starts to look a bit like the Sierras.  The redwood trees turn into shrubs and pine trees.

Then you come to a road.  It’s probably obvious but don’t go right onto the road.  According to the map, the road ends… go left, that’s where the top of the mountain is.  Oh and be sure to take note of the sign next to where the trail meets the road.  That will be your marker on the way back.  It’s easy to be talking as you walk along the road and miss the trail.   No idea what the sign says.  The writing is all sun bleached away.

DSC00648
Now we’re out on the roads. This is the intersection of Chalk Mountain Road (which runs along the ridge top) and Whitehouse Road

We followed the road for a little while until coming to a structure at a hairpin curve that was obviously carved out.  No idea what all these solar panels were about but the view was tremendous.

DSC00639
Not sure what this place was. It had lots of solar panels, a little building and a pole for Jack to climb

And Jack did a little climbing to get an even better view…

We could see the antenna at the real top of Chalk Mountain about a mile away so after some more gazing off at the view, we struck out down the road again.  Seemed like it took forever to get to the next antenna but it was a pleasant walk which followed the ridge.  Once we got there, the views were still tremendous ‘cept now we were looking inland.  Of course my preference is looking out over the ocean.

It was a very pleasant day… sunny, warmish, clear… kinda perfect. We all had things to do when we got there.  We ate, I changed my clothes into something cooler, Jack climbed another tower (this one was sturdier and higher), Donna examined the wildflowers and Kalika took a nap… oh and the outhouse at the top unexpectedly became a big attraction.

Then it was time to head back down.  Of course we took more pictures along the way.  The views continued to be pretty dialed ‘cept now we didn’t have to turn around to take it all in.

Found the junction with the trail and descended back into the redwoods.

Before this outing, I always thought of Chalk Mountain as an epic local climb.  But now I think of it more as one of the local “workout” climbs… sorta like Fall Creek has become.  It’s got this sustained, steep 1000 foot climb right from the parking lot and you’re rewarded with some awesome views so that makes it worth getting up there.  Up and back it’s about 4 miles then if you add in the trail/road over to the top of Chalk Mountain proper, it’s about 6 miles round trip.  But in the future, unless I simply gotta use the outhouse, I think I can miss the extension.