3 Unforgettable Hikes on the California Coast

Buckeye Trail to Spruce Camp (Out-and-Back, 22 mi. total) – Big Sur, California

The Buckeye trail is known for its vast, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and coastline. Beginning at the Cruickshank Trailhead on Hwy 1, a steep incline at the start produces the first epic views within minutes of setting out. After about a mile, the trail leads into the forest of the Silver Peak Wilderness where it connects with the Buckeye Trail. Taking the Buckeye trail south will eventually result in breathtaking ocean vistas, which can be enjoyed for quite a few miles as the trail runs parallel to the coast. Eventually, the trail drops back down to Hwy 1 again, where you can switch over the Salmon Creek Trail. Once on the Salmon Creek Trail, you soon pass by Salmon Creek Falls—an impressive 120-foot waterfall amidst large boulder formations. After 2.5 miles, you will reach Spruce camp—a peaceful, shady site with multiple areas and close proximity to the river. This hike can also be made into a loop, as described Here.

 

Woodward Valley Loop (Loop, 13 mi.) – Point Reyes, California

The great thing about this 13 mile loop through the Point Reyes National Seashore is the variety of scenery and landscapes. Beginning with a climb up Mount Wittenberg, the highest point in Point Reyes, the first leg of the loop is shrouded by lush forest. After making your way down the Sky trail to the Woodward Valley Trail, you will eventually emerge from the forest (quite abruptly) to find sweeping, wide-open panoramas of the ocean and coast. The Woodward Valley Trail takes you on a beautiful descent down to the coastline, where you can then follow the Coast Trail along the shore with beach access to two remote beaches (Sculptured and Kelham). The loop concludes with a mellow incline up the Bear Valley trail to the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Read more about Point Reyes’ trails and suggested routes Here.

 

Pine Ridge Trail to Skyes Camp (Out-and-Back, 20 mi. total) – Big Sur, California

The Pine Ridge Trail is one of the most popular backpacking routes in Big Sur. Beginning at Big Sur Station, the trail meanders through a fairly flat patch of forest before reaching a steep incline at mile 1. The next two miles are a nearly constant climb with over 1000 feet of elevation gain. This ascent brings you into the magnificent Ventana Wilderness, with prime views of the surrounding mountain landscape. The trail alternates between dense groves and scenic ridges for the remaining 6.5 miles, with no shortage of picturesque terrain. When you approach mile 10, you will need to cross the Big Sur River to reach Sykes Camp. The camp sits right alongside the river, and waking up with the morning sunlight shimmering off the water is a truly fantastic sight. Detailed information about the Pine Ridge Trail and Sykes Camp can be found Here.