Chalk Mountain (1609′)
20 May 2017
Chalk Mountain is one of two CC-listed peaks in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. I had hiked up Pine Mountain the previous November, but Chalk is a bit further away from the visitor’s center or any other trailhead. Depending on the route you take, there’s also a lot more sun and less redwood-induced shade.
I started at Waddell Beach and made my way up past the marshes of Rancho del Oso, once owned by Presidential brother Theodore Hoover. The Westridge Trail is quite bumpy; there’s a good 3696 feet of elevation gain from the beach to the top of Chalk Mountain even though said peak is only 1609 feet high.
There’s an old lookout atop Chalk Mountain, and some great views into the West Waddell Creek Wilderness, the western part of Big Basin State Park that isn’t as frequently visited.
For my descent route, I continued on the Chalks Road (essentially, a nice ridge road atop the Chalks) and then eventually descended on the Henry Creek Trail after a couple miles. This route was longer but avoided the ups-and-downs of the Westridge Trail. Plus, it’s usually more fun to make a loop hike when you can.
However, this route had a couple of unexpected hazards. The first was shortly after the Henry Creek trail junction, when I heard a sound that I first thought was my water pack springing a leak. Nope. That’s a rattlesnake. Fortunately, the snake was on the hillside to the right of the trail, so I dashed past hugging the trail’s left. The second was at the very end of the Henry Creek Trail. The trail had already crossed West Waddell Creek once at a point that was easily jumpable, but this crossing was a lot wider and required a bit more care in wading across and being sure not to slip on the slick rocks at the creek’s bottom.
After successfully fording the creek and putting my shoes back on, it was smooth sailing via the Skyline to the Sea Trail back to Waddell Beach. A solid and enjoyable 19-mile outing that made for some great exercise.
California Coastal Peak List: 42/302