February 11th, 2016
SeaMade: Best Hikes | Central California Edition A series on surf, cross training and lessons on all things salty by guest blogger, Madison
Being a California coastal dweller my whole life, I find myself getting jaded over the ability to be at the beach in an instant. Which is why I like to put some distance between me and the ocean sometimes and head for the hills. Immersing myself into nature on a hike is pretty meditative, kind of like surfing and waiting for waves in between sets. Hiking is also a killer workout that I love so much it doesn’t even seem like a workout. There’s always so much to look at and I love the curiosity that comes with never knowing what’s around the next bend. To begin this new Top Hikes series on SeaMade, we’re going to check out two of my favorite Central California hikes- Yosemite Falls and Vincente Flats…
(Pictured Above: Crossing the stream at Andrew Molera, another awesome Big Sur hike that ends up at a fun surf spot | Billabong Backpack | Hooded Flannel | Felt Hat )
Location: Yosemite Valley, CA
Distance: 7 miles round trip, if you go all the way to the upper falls.
Level: very challenging
If you haven’t been to Yosemite, you’re missing out. Do what you have to do to get there- drive, fly, hike, shapeshift, whatever- just get there! A gigantic glacier in the ice age carved out Yosemite Valley, leaving the ultimate playground for outdoors enthusiasts. There are countless trails, so it was hard for me to decide just one to feature, but the standout in my mind is Yosemite Falls. Beginning on the valley floor, you’ll ascend 3000 feet along dozens of switchbacks up the cliff. Mind you, this a very challenging hike due to the steepness. This trail must have been the inspiration for the inventor of the StairMaster. Rock steps will get your booty burning like none other and high elevation mountain air will leave you breathless, so take your time. There are a few distance options, as stated on EveryTrail.com: From the trailhead to Columbia Rock, from Columbia to the lower gate, from the lower gate to the upper gate and from the upper gate to the overlook. I highly recommend you push through the burn and summit the falls at the overlook. The view is insane! This hike always makes me feel so alive and thankful for the body that supports me and for our beautiful nature.
Location: Big Sur, CA
Distance: 10.5 miles roundtrip
Level: moderately challenging
Ok- so this hike is actually on the coast, but about 2000 feet above the ocean. The trailhead begins at Kirk Creek campground, on the east side of Highway 101. The first few miles wind up the mountainside- embrace the burn! As you gain elevation, you’ll meander north along the mountainside. The views of the rugged Big Sur coast are amazing! Then at about mile three, the trail turns inland and you’ll delve into towering red wood forests. You’ll hit the halfway point at Vincente Flat Camp where you can refuel and chill while checking out one of the steepest coastal canyons in the US. In spring and summer you’ll see more scenery along the trail because all the flowers are in bloom, but fog will probably prevent you from seeing the view of the coast. In fall and winter, the trail foliage is brown and dry, but the air is usually crystal clear, giving you a panoramic view of the coast for miles. When you’ve descended back down the mountain, take the beach trail at Kirk Creek for an icy ocean dip. It’ll really help your muscles recover.