691. Eagle Rock Loop (09/12/09)
Hikers (17): Arlene, David, Diane, George, Isai, Janice, Jeanette, Jeff, John, Kandha, Linda L, Mike, Peter M, Rich, Sabine, Sheridan, Steve
Distance: 12 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Big Basin State Park near Boulder Creek
Write-up by Steve
The goal of this the hike was Eagle Rock, the only named peak on Big Basin property that INCH had never visited. The land where Eagle Peak resides is separated from the main bulk of the park by Little Basin. Fortunately, POST and the Sempervirens bought Little Basin from Hewlett Packard in 2007, opening it to the public. But things are not so easy, as only one connection between the two parks is listed on both the Big Basin map and Little Basin map, and even that one is a little ambiguous. A little internet "research" yielded the GPS track of someone who had gone from Big Basin to Little Basin at a point not shown on either map. This, along with a Topo map, Google Earth, and the two existing maps suggested a loop could be done. So, with a sketchy route in place, the notice was sent. What could go wrong?
I warned everyone that we would need to stick together more than usual on this hike. This led to a longer hike, with four breaks (a modern-day INCH record, no doubt), but it worked out just fine. First we navigated up to Buzzards Roost. The plan was to go to Pine Mountain, too, but the old use was now signed as "closed," so we dutifully obeyed. We had bigger plans!
While waiting around at Buzzards Roost--where several people climbed up the roost--I found out that George had a crucial missing link in our map. The newer Skyline-to-the-Sea maps have all the fire roads in Little Basin marked. They don't have names (nor are they signed in the park), but the general idea was enough to confirm the hike plan, particularly that a nearby fireroad connected to the bottom of Little Basin.
We took the nearly hidden use trail from the saddle between Buzzards Roost and Pine Mountain down to the aforementioned fireroad. Just for kicks, we hiked up and around the summit there (Pine Mountain Junior). Several people made the tricky climb to the top. This became break #2, seeing as many people just chilled.
We followed the fireroad into Little Basin. Several well-maintained cabins were passed, not to mention multiple playgrounds. There was a definite ghost-town vibe--the place was deserted. After some time, different groups found different routes to a parallel service road that led to the next segment of the hike. I had the coordinates for where the "trail" began, and found George standing in front of a yellow gate where we all converged. This was a nice, shaded route on yet another fireroad (and not a trail, as I had been expecting) with enough kick to keep it interesting.
Miles later, we made it to the vicinity of Eagle Rock. There were several people in yellow shirts sitting on The Rock when we got there. After investigating the nearby lookout tower, I walked up to claim the area for INCH. The well-color-coordinated crowd at the top turned out to be a crew of Little Basin trail maintenance volunteers. They were surprised to learn we came from Big Basin, and one of them was thinking we must have trespassed. I busted out George's missing-link map segment, and everyone was happy to see exactly how Little Basin fit relative to the two Big Basin parcels. George knew the woman who was running the trail crew and much talking ensued.
After this break #3, we set off down the trail the crew was working on. This was the first trail we hiked in Little Basin (the rest being fireroads). In fact, it appears to be the only trail in the park. The crew mentioned a side trail to an overlook, so I checked it out. Great views from that small peak, along with a convenient bench. This put me in the back of the pack except for Jeff, who also took the spur trail to the bench.
After one very cool bridge crossing (a bridge which Jeff surmised would be demolished if/when Little Basin is sold to Big Basin State Park), we were back in Little Basin. I had the coordinates for the Tan Oak trail we needed (which I deduced from a Topo map, where this road was called Heartwood Hill). Much to my delight, the entire INCH group was taking break #4 in a picnic area by the start of the trail. A group was having some sort of crafts workshop nearby, so it was good to see someone else was getting use out of the property. After determining no one was missing, we set off on the final leg of the trip.
After a mile of shaded uphill hiking we hit the gate that leads into Big Basin. This is the only landmark that is on both Little Basin's and Big Basin's map. After that, it was all downhill to the cars, where many gathered for a little post-hiked eating which included fresh dates from Peter M. After each person would try them, they would say, "Wow, where did you get these?" Answer: Milk Pail Market
Another new hike for books. Hopefully, when Little Basin becomes part of Big Basin, they will build a real trail from Buzzards Roost to Little Basin, put up a few trail signs, and the loop we did will be "official".
Kandha's 1st leaf
Sheridan's 1st leaf
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