Hiking Stats as of 11/12/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet
It was New Year's Day 2015, and with a long hike planned for January 3 I was looking for something not too difficult and not too far away to kick off the 2015 hiking year. I've been chasing after the CC peaks of late, as they have proven to be a fine source of local destinations which have been largely a great deal of fun. Today's plan was to head to the Santa Cruz Mountains in pursuit of Santa Rosalia Mountain and Pine Mountain, which would represent CC Peaks #65 and #66 in my peak count. Since this was going to be a relatively easy day, I took my time in the morning, sleeping in and walking the dogs before heading out around 11 AM.

Santa Rosalia

The plan was to first head to Santa Rosalia, a peak that actually requires quite a long drive to approach. I took highway 17 south out of San Jose, and exited at Summit Road. From there it was a pretty easy drive to where Highland Road breaks off and becomes a narrow, windy path popular with mountain bikers. It took about 45 minutes from the exit off Highway 17 to finally reach a large turnout where a dirt road heads up towards Santa Rosalia. The quick trip was expected to be less than 5 miles and less than 1,000 feet of gain, so I left my pack in the car and headed out. While there were no hikers in the area, I saw a steady stream of bikers heading off towards parts unknown (I never saw any coming towards me, only in the direction I was going). Navigation was trivial, as the wide road wound gently uphill, and in 35 minutes I reached a gate on the upper slopes of the mountain. Less than 5 minutes later as the road crested I saw a faint use trail heading up to the summit area. It was a quick stroll to the the top, where it wasn't at all obvious where the high point was. I walked around for a little bit, trying to locate any type of cairn or summit marker, but unable to find anything of distinction, had to settle for stomping through the forest to ensure the highpoint was reached.

The positive result of the summit exploration was finding a better use trail which was a more direct route back to the road which I followed back down. As with the summit, there were very limited views to be had, with the best view towards the ocean which was seen during a break in the tree cover. All told I spent about 1:15 hiking Santa Rosalia Mountain. It's probably not the best scenario to drive 1:45 only to spend 1:15 on the trail. Oh well, with this remote peak done it was time to head on to the next one.

Pine Mountain / Buzzards Roost

Pine Mountain is in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, a fantastic park which is wildly popular with outdoor enthusiasts and was surprisingly full of visitors when I arrived a little after an hour after finishing Santa Rosalia. I had thought that the late hour and the fact that it was New Years might be reasons to have some solitude but I was wrong. I had been here only two weeks prior, hiking Chalk Mountain. That hike wound up being tougher than anticipated, and I had to abandon any hope of tacking on Pine Mountain to that day's agenda. So I was back, and paid another $10 to park. The attendant told me that all the trails close at sunset and that I had only a little over an hour to hike. I think he thought I was a bit crazy for arriving after 3 PM and paying for a daily parking pass for a couple hours of hiking. But I wanted to bag Pine Mountain, and this was a small price to pay.

I got started on the Pine Mountain trail, a single track trail which was very popular, with many hikers coming down as I was heading up. I followed the easy trail up for about 45 minutes, until I could see Buzzards Roost, a fun little class 2/3 outcrop where the Pine Mountain trail ends. I climbed up the Roost without any problem, and was surprised to see just how fantastic the views from this location were. I could see another rock outcrop, this one unnamed, on the next ridge over and decided I would visit that before coming back and heading off towards Pine Mountain. I descended the Roost and found a pretty good use trail which led over to that other rock outcrop which wound up being a very enjoyable and challenging (for such a short distance) class 3 climb. I went straight up the rock and enjoyed views that were similar to what I had over on the Roost, only better.

I decided to try to find a different way down from the outcrop, as my ascent route was a bit difficult and came down the opposite side of the rock which worked better for the descent, but probably would rate a minimum of class 4 if you were going up. The ascent/descent of this outcrop was the highlight of the day for sure. Once down I retraced my steps back up the use trail and back to the Roost. I had noticed a trail closure sign located between the Roost and Pine Mountain, and recognized it as the old Pine Mountain trail which was no longer maintained. I followed this trail up to Pine Mountain, having to hop over many branches and logs to get up to the top. The trail ended at the foot of a giant rock cairn which marked the summit of Pine Mountain. It was less than 10 minutes up from the start of the abandoned trail to the summit. There were no views to be had on top, as the summit is covered in tall trees. On descent I was able to see Buzzards Roost across the way. It took another 45 minutes to complete the descent of the Pine Mountain trail back to the Park Headquarters. The last 20 minutes of this return trip required the use of a headlamp, as I was now past the sunset deadline, and when I arrived at the visitors center at 5:45 my car was one of only 2 left in the lot. I hurried in to the car, lest the other car belong to the worker who warned me to be off the trail before sunset. The Buzzards Roost/Pine Mountain hike wound up being about 6 miles and 1500 feet of gain and took about 2.5 hours, with the longer time due to the slow going up the unnamed rock outcrop before going up Pine Mountain. It took 1:45 to get home, so at least time spent hiking did wind up exceeding time spent driving on this day.

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