This is a great beginner backpacking trip or a quick backpacking getaway for a weekend. Expect it to be challenging yet rewarding with beautiful vistas.
Bring lots of water as there are few places to refill.
After parking your car at the Jay Camp parking lot, make your way to the HQ and past the cafe. You'll find the entrance to the Skyline to the Sea Connector
that takes you to the Skyline to the Sea Trail
at a nearby parking lot.
The beginning of this trail is a slow gradual climb that is relatively easy. About 1.5 miles in you'll run across a bench and some information regarding early travelers in the area. This bench may be your best friend on the return trip, so don't forget it :)
Continue on and eventually you'll find yourself alongside Opal Creek, which will be your only source of water until the next day so if you aren't filled up, do so now. Once you hit a fork in the road, take the left path to Hollow Tree Trail
. This trail will be a fairly steep incline with a lot of switchbacks as you gain elevation to Lane Camp. Along the way, you'll run into some relics of an old mill that used to be in the area.
Near the top of the trail, the trees will give way to a rockier terrain and a sun that beats down so it is best to get to this point earlier in the afternoon if possible. At the top, you'll see the China Grade Road and to the right will be the Basin Trail
which is where you'll go tomorrow. In the meantime, go left on the path to Lane Camp and spend the night. There is no water here, but there are vault toilets.
The next day, continue onto Basin Trail
and follow the switchbacks through a dense forest until you connect with the Skyline to the Sea Trail
. It is all downhill from this point so take your time and enjoy the sprawling vistas. Before you reach the Hollow Tree Trail
intersection, you'll have your second opportunity to refill water so do so if you need to as it will be about two more miles to HQ from there.
Continue on Skyline to the Sea Trail
all the way back to HQ and enjoy a nice lunch at the HQ cafe :)