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6. Buzzard’s Roost Trail

The trailhead to the Buzzard’s Roost hike in Big Sur, California.

Buzzard’s Roost starts as a mild walk, before eventually turning into an uphill trek through a wealth of old-growth. Photo by tdlucas-5000 licensed under CC BY 2.0Buzzard’s Roost is a short hike with a progressively steepening uphill. The trail follows a meandering river, climbing through lowland and upland old-growth for about an hour until reaching the titular clearing, where buzzards can often be found basking in the sun. It’s well-kept, well-shaded, and packed with banana slugs in the wetter months.

What makes this hike fascinating to me are the unique shapes you’ll find on the trees. Thanks to their thick bark and lack of flammable resin, coastal redwoods are highly resistant to burning. In forest fires, the trees will rarely catch completel—the tree inside the bark can catch fire, leading to darkened markings on the shell. It’s sort of like a tree tattoo.

About the author
Professional hiker and guidebook author

Liz Thomas is thru-hiker and guidebook author best known for breaking the women’s self-supported record on the Appalachian Trail. She’s the author of the National Outdoor Book Award winning Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike, which won the National Outdoor Book Award in 2017. When she’s not backpacking, Liz is a motivational speaker who has presented on Capitol Hill, corporate retreats, national non-profit donor events, and colleges and universities including Yale and MIT. You can find her at or @lizthomashiking
and Facebook.

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