spacer

  • Share, Tweet, Email!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail   spacer 

 

Santa Cruz Hiking & Nature Walks

Santa Cruz, California Hiking and Nature Walks

Santa Cruz is home to a number of wonderful areas that are perfect for hiking and nature walks.

To review our listings of hiking trails and nature walks, please scroll down the page or click on Santa Cruz Area Hikes or North Hwy 1 ─ including Davenport, Pescadero, and Half Moon Bay

Santa Cruz Parks, Beaches and Nature Preserves

Big Basin – Rancho Del Oso

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Hwy 1   (831) 338-8860

One of our favorite short hikes – around 1 ½ hours!

Located 25 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Hwy. 1, the park has miles of trails, which serves hikers and equestrians, links Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. Maps >>

Big Basin Redwoods State ParkBig Basin State Park

21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA   (831) 338-8860

The park has over 80 miles of trails. Be sure and pick up a map at park headquarters before your hike and take a look at the multimedia kiosk in the Sempervirens Room (next to park headquarters). There you will find great information, photos, and video of some of the most popular trails.

De Laveaga Park

850 N. Branciforte Drive, Santa Cruz, CA

Trails are open to hikers and bicyclists. Please stay on designated trails.

Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Aptos Creek Road, Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA   (831) 763-7062

The park offers rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet.  It has over 30 miles of hiking, jogging and biking trails.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

101 North Big Trees Park Road, Felton, CA   (831) 438-2396

This park features 15 miles of hiking and riding trails through a forest that looks much the same as it did 200 years ago.

Long Ridge Open Space Preserve

Skyline Boulevard, about 3.6 miles north of its intersection with Highway 9, and approximately 3.3 miles south of its intersection with Page Mill Road.

Since one can take short hikes or rides to scenic overlooks or longer loop trips, the preserve is very popular with hikers, cyclists, and equestrians.

Pogonip Park

333 Golf Club Drive, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 420-5270

Pogonip features approximately 8 miles of hiking trails. In the northernmost portion of Pogonip, a multi-use trail (approximately one mile in length) is open hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. This multi-use trail provides a connection between Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Pogonip, and the upper UCSC campus. Bicycles and horses are prohibited on all other trails. Bicyclists must ride responsibly and at a safe speed.

Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve

Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) and Highway 9 intersection

The two mile multi-use Saratoga Gap Trail provides great opportunities for hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

Soquel Demonstration State Park

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

4750 Old San Jose Road, Soquel, CA  (831) 475-8643

Offering almost 5 miles (out and back) trails, this preserve is extremely popular with mountain bikers.

University of California Santa Cruz – UCSC

1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA  Campus Police at (831) 459-2231

UCSC has many excellent bike trails on campus lands adjacent to the Campus Natural Reserve. Use of the campus trails, are encouraged. Riding bicycles in the reserve, on the trails or elsewhere, is prohibited

Wilder Ranch State Park

Located north of Santa Cruz, immediately west of Hwy 1  (831) 423-9703

The Park has 4,505 acres, with 34 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails winding through coastal terraces and valleys.

See Also State Parks and Beaches…

 

Davenport, Pescadero Parks, Beaches and Nature Preserves

Ano Nuevo State ReserveAno Nuevo State Reserve

New Year’s Creek Road, off Hwy 1 Pescadero, CA   650-879-0227

This 4,000 acre Reserve is a major gathering area for northern elephant seals, which may be seen year-around. The males battle for mates on the beaches. The females give birth to their young on the dunes.

Two short hikes/nature walks are available — the Pond Loop Trail and Cove Beach Trail are open year-round and do not require hiking permits.

Bean Hollow State Beach & Pebble Beach

650-879-2170

The beach features fishing, picnicking and beachcombing. Visitors can explore tide pools with anemones, crab, sea urchins and other marine inhabitants. The beach also has a self-guided nature trail perfect for nature walks and short hikes.

Located on the San Mateo Coast, Bean Hollow is 17.5 miles south of Santa Cruz and three miles south of Pescadero on Hwy. 1.

Big Basin – Rancho Del Oso

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Hwy 1   (831) 338-8860

One of our favorite short hikes – around 1 ½ hours!

Located 20 miles north of Santa Cruz on Hwy. 1, the park has miles of trails, which serves hikers and equestrians, links Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range.  Maps >>

Big Basin Redwoods State ParkBig Basin Redwoods State Park

21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA   (831) 338-8860

Perfect for hiking — Located 25 miles south of Santa Cruz on Hwy. 1, the park has miles of trails, which serves hikers and equestrians, links Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range.   Maps >>

Butano State Park

1500 Cloverdale Rd., Pescadero, CA  (650) 879-2040

Perfect for hiking –A 2,200-acre redwood park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, featuring excellent hiking through the redwood groves. Only three miles from the Pacific coast, the park’s trails offer views of the Pacific Ocean and the Año Nuevo islands.

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

Hwy 1, 16 miles south of Santa Cruz  (650) 879-2170

Perfect for nature walks — Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is a popular spot for bird watchers and other naturalists. The Reserve is a refuge for blue heron, kites, deer, raccoons, foxes and skunks.

As one of the most important remaining wetlands on the California Coast,  each year thousands of birds rest and feed at the preserve — providing a wonderful opportunity to watch almost 200 species of birds.

The best bird watching times are late fall and early spring.  If you are interested, the Audubon Society offers walking tours.

Portola Redwoods State ParkPortola Redwoods State Park

650-948-9098

Perfect for hiking –The park has a rugged, natural basin forested with coast redwoods, Douglas fir and live oak. Eighteen miles of trails crisscross the canyon and its two streams, Peters Creek and Pescadero Creek.

 

What’s on Tap

Events

Santa Cruz Festivals & Events:

Thunderbirds on the Santa Cruz Wharf! Sept. 30, 2017 at 9am to 3pm.

Featuring the classic 1955-1957, the 1958-1965 vintage and the retro, 2002-2005 Thunderbirds.

Open Studios Art Tour – First 3 weeks in Oct. 2017

Welcome Back Monarchs Day – Oct. 8, 2017 11am – 4pm.

Annual Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza! – Oct. 8, 2017

Santa Cruz Pumpkin Patches—Oct. 2017

MORE Santa Cruz Halloween Celebrations—Oct. 2017

Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival—Oct. 14 & 15, 2017

Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA

 

 

For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Santa Cruz.

 

Attractions

Top Santa Cruz Attractions:

 

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Fun for all ages.

Santa Cruz Campgrounds

Ocean views or Redwoods? Over 27 campgrounds and RV Parks

Santa Cruz Fishing 

Fall is fishing and crabbing season in Santa Cruz!

Santa Cruz Surfing

With 11 world-class surf breaks such as Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, it is easy to understand why the greatest surfers in the world call Santa Cruz home!

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May

 

For more information on local attractions, click on the Attractions or Recreational Activities.

 

 

Advisories

The Region’s Fall Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. Rush hour traffic can be extremely challenging – especially along Mission Street and Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Capitols. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to www.caltrans.com to learn about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.