If the Santa Cruz Mountains could speak….

California State ParksExperience the Santa Cruz Mountains like you never have before with your own professional California State Parks backcountry naturalists. Hike through fields of wildflowers, gaze at sweeping vistas, sleep under tranquil ancient redwoods, drink teas sourced from native plants, and so much more. Each trip offers more than simply trekking from point A to point B, as we interpret the historical and natural significance of this wilderness and strengthen your connection to nature. Learn how to look for endangered birds like the marbled murrelet, walk Native American trade routes, enjoy peaceful reflections amongst the forest, and listen to stories around the campfire of how these redwoods inspired some of the first preservationists in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

California State Parks Backpacking AdventuresCalifornia State Parks Backpacking Adventures offers a truly unique experience as it’s the only such program led by park staff. From beginners to seasoned nomads, we have a trip to suit you. We provide clean drinking water, transportation from start and end locations, and take the hassle out of planning a trip. Your pack will be lighter too. You don’t need to bring any water purification methods, and if you bring “just add hot water meals” you won’t need to carry a camp stove or fuel either. We’re also here to keep you safe. Each trip is led by two backcountry naturalists who are trained Wilderness First Responders — all that’s left is for you to have fun.

Register today for summer 2018 – limited spaces left! (external link)


Photo courtesy of California State Parks
Photo courtesy of California State Parks

Ridges to Redwoods

A perfect meeting of sweeping vistas and lush redwood forests, Ridges to Redwoods, takes you along the backbone of the Santa Cruz Mountains, backpacking from Castle Rock State Park to Portola Redwoods State Park. This 17-mile two-night, three-day trip takes you through rich Black Oak woodland ridgelines and dips into towering ancient redwood groves.

Cost: $225
Dates: Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1, 2018

Photo courtesy of California State Parks
Photo courtesy of California State Parks

Trek Though Time

On our personal favorite, a Trek Though Time, you’ll backpack from Butano State Park located off the Highway 1 coastline, to Waddell State Beach. Why is this challenging 32-mile three-night, four-day trip our favorite you ask? Because it explores relatively unknown portions of the backcountry with incredible stargazing opportunities before touring the iconic, must-see spots of Big Basin Redwoods State Park, including Berry Creek Falls.

Cost: $300
Dates: Thursday, July 19 through Sunday, July 22, 2018

So I know you’re asking yourself now, how can I sign up? You can find all the details and sign up at www.parks.ca.gov/backpacking (external link). Got more questions or just want to chat about the trails? Contact backpacking@parks.ca.gov or (831) 335-1743.

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About the author

Elise joined California State Parks in 2014 as a park interpreter in the Santa Cruz area, and she is the administrative coordinator for California State Parks Backpacking Adventures. She is an endlessly curious lover of the sciences and our natural world.

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