Hike The Great Park: Whitehouse Ridge

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Nov. 19, 2014—This time of year the redwood forest is transformed into an otherworldly place of earthy aromas, mushrooms, banana slugs and redwood trees rising into the mist. Experience a functioning redwood ecosystem in late fall by grabbing your rain jacket and heading for the Great Park.

If you hike or bike in the Santa Cruz Mountains, you're probably already spent some time in the Great Park. It extends from the summit to the sea in a 200-square-mile swath of redwood forest and associated ecosystems that starts at Pescadero and runs south to Wilder Ranch State Park. About three-quarters of it is already protected from development, and the rest will be soon, if the Sempervirens Fund has anything to say about it.

But with the days short and getting shorter, you gotta make your outings count. This short and sweet—but very steep—trail in Año Nuevo State Park climbs 800 feet in just over a mile. The good news is it rewards the tenacious with a view of Point Año Nuevo and the grandeur of the North Coast, and you'll know you've earned your beer (or cake or kale chips or whatever makes you happy) afterward. Here's a little about it:

"The Whitehouse Ridge Trail is a short hike just a couple miles inland of Highway 1 within Año Nuevo State Park. It is just over a mile long one way, but it’s a calf burner; it immediately charges uphill into the redwoods from the takeoff. The trail follows switchbacks to the top of a ridge up to the first (or “lower”) vista point. The second (upper) vista point is a half mile farther. Beyond that, just over a quarter mile, is Chalks Road and the Big Basin Redwoods State Park boundary." Read more at Hilltromper's writeup of the Whitehouse Ridge Trail, including how to make a great big 9-mile day of it.

Remember to bring water, a snack and layers—though those layers will most likely come off pretty early.

About The Great Park

The Great Park has no entrance kiosk or employee uniform, but it's as real as can be. Writer L. Clark Tate puts it this way: "The Great Park is Sempervirens Fund’s bid to achieve its ultimate goal to preserve a fully functioning redwood ecosystem in perpetuity ... it will link preexisting parks (such as Big Basin, Wilder Ranch and the 8,500-acre San Vicente Redwoods) in a mixed-use matrix including wild lands, recreation areas and working forests."

Intrigued? Find out more about the Great Park.

Hike The Great Park: Ocean View Summit
The Tallest Redwoods in The Great Park