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Big Basin to SF scenic route

Toronto, Canada
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Big Basin to SF scenic route

On our way from Big Sur to SF we are going to visit Big Basin. What is the most scenic route from park to SF?

San Francisco CA
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1. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

This is a great drive. Come N out of the park to Hwy 9 N to Hwy 35 N (also called Skyline Blvd.) You go through redwoods. You may want to stop and see Woodside. Then continue on N to Hwy 92 W. When you hit the ocean, turn right and take Hwy 1 into the City.

San Francisco...
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2. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

The most scenic route to SF would be to get back to highway 1 and then proceed north on 1 all the way to the City of Pacifica and from there to 280 N. to SF. The road to Big Basin from the coast to highway 9 and beyond to highway 17 is very windy so please be careful as many folks that I know have been car sick

Another alternate route is to continue on Highway 9 either to Highway 35 N. (which would be slow as it is a 2 lane highway) or to go to 17 North to 85N to 280North and then on to SF. I would suggest having a map or looking at google or bing map to help

Edited: 02 November 2011, 02:41
New York City, New...
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3. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

Well, the most direct route is to continue from park HQ on Hwy 236 to Hwy 9, then take 9 north to Hwy 35 (Skyline Blvd) to Hwy 92 east down to Interstate 280, which you can take into San Francisco.

Hwy 35 runs right along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mtns, with many parks along the way. At Russian Ridge there's a parking area on the east side of the highway with views down into Silicon Valley, Stanford campus, and the south SF Bay. Similar views a few miles north at Windy Hill park. If you hike around these parks a bit you can also get views of the ocean to the west. All this depends on clear weather, though, in summer Hwy 35 can be shrouded in heavy fog. Also, You really have to get out the car to see the views along this highway, you won't see them very well while driving .

After Windy Hill the road goes through second growth redwood forest, so you can compare with the old growth at Big Basin. About halfway to Hwy 92 is Alice's Restaurant, where you can get a burger and a beer if you like. It's very popular with motorcyclists (the whole highway is popular with motorcyclists, it's polite to let them pass when safe), but not a biker bar by any means, very family friendly.

After another ten miles or so you get out of the forest into chapparel with views of the ocean to the west and Crystal Springs Reservoir (holding pen for SF's water, after it comes from Yosemite via the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct). You'll soon reach Hwy 92 (there's a viewpoint parking area just before you reach it). You can either go west to Half Moon Bay and then take Hwy One to SF (longer route, sometimes blocked at Devil's Slide), or go east on 92 to Interstate 280 north to SF.

One thing about this route is that Hwy 236 north out of Big Basin is very narrow and winding for about 10 miles before you reach Hwy 9, almost one lane for both directions, no center line most of the way. You can try the first few miles of this road and if you don't like it can turn around at the park boundary (China Grade Road) and backtrack on 236 to Boulder Creek then take 9 north to 35. There are also some great views over Big Basin to the ocean along the first few miles of 236 between park HQ and China Grade Road, in a chapparal/scraggly pine environment, very different from the redwood forest below.

The only other choices are to backtrack from BB to Santa Cruz, and take Hwy One all the way to SF, this is by far the longest way to go, and while scenic enough, it doesn't compare to Big Sur. Or continue on Hwy 9 north and east to Interstate 280, but you'll miss the views on Hwy 35 (maybe take this if it's foggy along 35)...

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

Thank you everybody. We don't want to take Hwy one , because we are taking it going from SF to Big Sur. Driving back we want an alternative route. Also, my friend is truck driver - so we are OK with any kinds of roads. Thank you.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

Bayatuning has given you great information.

You will enjoy the ride from Big Basin on Hwy 35.

To get to Big Basin from Hwy 1 in Santa Cruz.

Coming from Monterey, stay on Hwy 1, don't take the Hwy 17 exit. And don't be confused by the horrific fish-hook curve you need to take to stay on Hwy 1. When you are out of it, be in the right lane and take the Half Moon Bay direction. Very shortly there is a traffic light with signage to Boulder Creek and Big Basin. This is Hwy 9. You will turn right.

The first entrance to Big Basin is 13 miles north at Boulder Creek. The road (Hwy 236) loops through the park for 17 miles and comes out at Hwy 9, again, 8 miles north of Boulder Creek.

Continue on Hwy 9 and follow Bayatuning's directions.

Perhaps you are not old enough to get the significance of the restaurant up there called "Alice's Restaurant". Every time I see it I want to sing Arlo Guthrie's song of the same name. "You can get any-thing you want...at Ali-ce's Restaurant".

Enjoy your trip.

Edited: 02 November 2011, 04:27
Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

Bayatuning and Puter thank you. We will take 35 - sounds like good plan. Thank you for directions. Love your area. All the best.

Santa Cruz...
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7. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

Enjoy the drive. It's one of my favorites!

San Jose, California
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8. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

Hwy 35 is a great route. There are some wineries up there too if that interests you. I enjoy Thomas Fogerty.

9. Re: Big Basin to SF scenic route

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