The fun begins on Whitehouse Canyon Road. More photos available in the Coast Range slide show on my website.
July 31, 1988
After the go-go days of Jobst Rides in the 1970s, it was sometimes just me and Jobst out for a ride. Jobst Brandt always had a way to make things interesting. This one is high on the list for adventure.
Route: Up Alpine Road, south on Skyline to Hwy 9, 236 to Big Basin Park, Gazos Creek Road to Whitehouse Canyon Road, down to Sunset Trail, Berry Creek Trail to Golden Falls, Cascade, Silver, and Berry Creek Falls, Skyline to the Sea Trail to the Pacific; Highway 1 north to Bean Hollow Road, up Pescadero Road to Loma Mar, Wurr Road to Haul Road, up Bridge Trail and Tarwater Trail, Alpine Road to Skyline, down Page Mill.
Weather: Warm and sunny after morning fog
Tire/Mechanical failure: Ray, flat.
One of the major attractions deep in the redwoods of Big Basin Park is a series of waterfalls: Golden, Cascade, Silver, Berry Creek. Reaching them calls for a long hiker over a high ridge from park headquarters or a gradual climb from the ocean on an old railroad grade now used as a park service road.
On this day, Jobst and I set off to explore a less traveled route, descending from above on Whitehouse Canyon Road and down a narrow, steep trail. We left under foggy skies toward the Santa Cruz Mountains as Jobst has done for the past 30 years. On the way we saw a procession of cars with bicycles attached, going to the event called Women on a Roll.
We passed a regular customer of Palo Alto Bicycles riding slowly up Alpine Road, moving about as fast as a snake on a cold rock. He wore heavy clothing and bulky hiking boots, the stuff of slow riders. His sweaty beard dripped like a leaky faucet. I waved and said hi. He recognized me from the shop.
On the way up Alpine Road we noticed the sign “All Must Walk” had been ripped down. We’re not the only ones who objected. Jobst pointed to a bush he said did not belong on the road. Next spring he’ll return and cut it down without prejudice. This is Jobst’s road now. He cares for it. It is his path to adventure in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a trail to Sunday celebrations.
At Big Basin we grabbed a bite to eat (don’t forget to turn in your cans for the nickel deposit) as we’ve done so many times in the past.
Gazos Creek Road started out in good shape, a bit loose but nothing to slow us down. However, conditions took a turn for the worse at the county maintained portion of road. All those thoughts about my life being on fire, sinking in the quicksand of sorrow, were replaced by a struggle of a different sort.
The dust was at least several inches deep – fine dust through which our tires sank and sucked us down until we could barely move. A tractor had plowed the road and Jobst complained bitterly about such a foolish act. After our bikes had turned to dust, we finally arrived at the aptly named Sandy Point Ranger Station where we met two men dressed like Sunday golfers, white T shirts and shorts. They had inexpensive mountain bikes and looked to be out of shape. They had ridden up Gazos Creek Road and were contemplating their next move. We suggested Whitehouse Canyon Road. They followed.
About 0.3 miles down Whitehouse Canyon we turned off at a service road with a gate and trail sign. It took us steeply down to Sunset Trail Camp, where we discovered the trail was closed. We turned around and headed up a short distance to the main camp where I noticed I had a flat. After making a quick repair, we headed back up the trail to a wood structure.
The trail took off from behind the building – loose and steep. Quickly, we entered the bowels of the canyon. Vegetation changed from chaparral and pine to redwoods. After a few switchbacks we arrived at a massive rusty, golden-hued rock over which the waters of Berry Creek cascaded into a liquid pool. Two men sat at the edge of the pool studying the park map.
Jobst dismounted and walked to get a drink from the cool waters splashing down the rock’s smooth face. This was the stuff of fairy tales, a fern-covered redwood forest, golden waterfalls, a burbling creek and waterfalls – mystical, magical.
We headed down the trail over a series of log steps cut into the narrow, rocky canyon. Huge logs, the remnants of the flood of 82-83, lay across the narrow, rocky canyon like so many matchsticks. To reach Silver Falls we rappelled down a steep, rocky cliff. With our slippery plastic-soled shoes and bike in hand it wasn’t easy. We hung grimly onto the wire cable for support and made our way down.
At Silver Falls I took a photo. We rode the rest of the way down to Berry Creek Falls, passing about a half-dozen hikers. Berry Creek Falls is a 30-foot drop with an observation platform. From here it was a short distance to the Skyline to the Sea Trail. The road to the ocean had been repaired since the floods of 82-83.
We passed dozens of hikers and cyclists on the old railroad grade. One cyclist, a young boy on a small bike, pedaled merrily along. Jobst said, “He has to come back you know. Will he make it?”
We reached Highway 1 after four miles and headed north with a strong tailwind. How unusual. Heading south, into the wind, was none other than Erik Garfinkel.
Farther up Highway 1 we saw a Dusty Roads Tour van and then the two mountain bike riders we had seen earlier. We stopped and talked. They said some loggers had told them they were trespassing on Whitehouse Canyon Road, but let them pass. The riders looked beat and they still had to ride back to park headquarters.
We continued north with the tailwind and stopped at the newly renovated Beach House restaurant. We looked around inside and checked out a painting of old Pescadero.
Next we turned right on Bean Hollow Road (old Coast Highway) and headed into Pescadero, where we encountered a heavily loaded British tourist. His red hair gleamed in the afternoon sun. He was heading north to Half Moon Bay on a tour of California. We chatted before he headed off.
In Loma Mar we said hello to Roger [former store owner and postmaster] and had a bit to eat before taking the Haul Road. We met a couple of mountain bike riders on the road. As we headed up Tarwater Trail, I showed Jobst the former mill site and boiler.
Tarwater Trail isn’t so bad, but the paved road up to Alpine Road is something else: with some sections as steep as 20 percent. After that grunt work, Alpine Road seemed tame.
Near the Tulgey Woods we joined a cyclist walking his bike. Jobst urged him to remount and ride. “It’s not any easier walking. You can do it.” The rider finally got started. In the woods Jobst, as is his custom, began reciting Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.
After a fast downhill on Page Mill we finished the ride with 100.5 miles on our cyclometers. An epic Jobst Ride had ended at 5:30 p.m.