Cone Peak is a spectacular summit along the rugged Big Sur coast. At 5,155 feet, it is the second highest mountain in the Santa Lucia Mountain range, but it’s the highest mountain to offer a view of the ocean. The mountain rises nearly a vertical mile in less than three miles from the coastline as the crow flies. This is one of the steepest gradients from ocean to summit in the contiguous United States, hence the name “Sea to Sky.” In fact, the average gradient from sea level to summit is around 33%, which is steeper than the average gradient from Owens Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney. The three canyons that descend from Cone Peak to the ocean are impressively steep with thick stands of redwoods and cascading streams. The ridgelines contain oak woodland and chaparral transitioning to a pine forest higher up and even some firs near the top.
Archive for January, 2010
Big Basin is one of my favorite places to run. Established in 1902, it’s California’s oldest state park and features the largest continuous stand of old growth redwood forest (in square miles) south of Humboldt State Park (250 miles to the north). It’s only 1.5 hours away from the population centers of the Bay Area, but feels much further. Big Basin’s boundaries contain over 18,000 acres, but trails link to adjacent protected lands. All told, there are hundreds of miles of delicious single track to explore in the “redwood belt” of the Santa Cruz Mountains.