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McAbee Mountain - Big Basin, CA

Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 965 feet
Elevation Gain 600 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2011-07-02 JimmyLyding
Author JimmyLyding
author avatar Guides 111
Routes 430
Photos 4,295
Trips 715 map ( 4,289 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Walnut Creek, CA
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Apr, Mar, Feb → 5 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  4:48am - 7:31pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Easy Intro to Big Basin
by JimmyLyding

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a pain to get to, but it remains very popular. I realize that a huge park in the cool redwoods is going to be quite crowded with temperatures in the 90s throughout much of the Bay Area. There must have been 1,000 cars there today. This is not only one of the most beautiful places in the region, but one of its busiest. The 18,000 acre park has 146 family campsites and countless picnic tables. However, Big Basin seems pretty wild once one travels away from the hubbub around the headquarters and campgrounds. Towering forests of redwood and Douglas fir shade most of this trip, but there are a few long range views. This is a great hike for those who don't feel the need to do the super-popular hikes involving Berry Creek Falls.

I've set the beginning of this hike as the park headquarters, but you will most assuredly be parking in a spot that isn't in the immediate vicinity. From the HQ walk northwest past the store and snack shop to a small bridge over Opal Creek. Take the signed Skyline To The Sea Trail left. You are already in a dense forest of mixed Douglas fir and redwood. The STTST heads west for 0.4 mile before going north for 0.5 mile to its intersection with the Middle Ridge Road. There's a metal trail map that looks to have been shot, and turn left for 50 yards until the Howard King Trail branches off to the right. You can also continue straight along the Middle Ridge fire road, and then turn right onto the Hinn Hammond fire road. Both Hinn Hammond and Howard King end up at McAbee Mountain, but Howard King is a little more interesting because it's a small trail while Hinn Hammond is a wide fire road. Both routes branch away from each other only to join for brief stretches between STTST and McAbee Mountain.

The best stretch is on the 1.2 mile stretch of the Howard King Trail east of McAbee Mountain. This section travels through mixed Douglas fir and redwood forest, open chaparral, and knobcone pine scrub forest. There are also about the only long range views of the entire hike. Pine Mountain looms beyond the deep East Waddell Creek drainage.

You can return the way you came or enjoy one of the many alternates to the route I took. The Howard King Trail continues north from McAbee Mountain 2.0 miles down to Berry Creek Falls. From Berry Creek Falls head east along the STTST back to the park HQ.

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2011-07-02 JimmyLyding
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    CA State Parks - Fee: typically $2-$15 per vehicle, view more information

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    This place sucks to get to. From Hwy 85 (West Valley Fwy) in Saratoga, CA (southwest of San Jose) go west on Saratoga Avenue. You head through a nice neighborhood before a main street type of area. Continue straight as Hwy 9 joins from the south, and the road changes to Big Basin Way. Then the road changes to Congress Springs Road even though it's the same road about 200 yards later. You cross Skyline Blvd. (Hwy 35) about 10 curvy miles later. From the junction Hwy 9 is about 10 more cringe-inducing miles to the final approach to the park. The road is very narrow here, and it's pretty hairy. Go straight at the junction with Hwy 236 following the signs to Big Basin Redwoods State Park for 10 more never-wracking miles to the park headquarters, and look for a place to park. I parked along the North Escape Road and there appears to be tons of parking there.
    page created by JimmyLyding on Jul 02 2011 11:33 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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