Explore the most popular trails in Natural Bridges State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Natural Bridges State Park is a magnificent oasis of natural beauty located between the edge of the ocean and the outer limits of Santa Cruz. The beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, and seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, tide pools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. The park also includes a large area of coastal scrub meadows, with bright native wildflowers in the spring. Moore Creek flows down to the ocean through these meadows, forming wetlands in the sand. During fall and winter, Natural Bridges is home to one of the largest monarch butterfly over-wintering sites in the Western United States. Each year, from the boardwalk in the Monarch Preserve, you can see thousands of monarch butterflies clustered in the eucalyptus trees. A demonstration milkweed patch next to the visitor center provides food for monarch caterpillars. If you look closely, you can often find the bright green chrysalids (cocoons) hanging under the fence railing. Public monarch tours are offered on the weekends. Spring brings warmer weather and low tides for viewing anemones, crabs, urchins, sea stars and other sea life. Moore Creek flows down to the ocean through a large area of coastal scrub meadows and along riparian, freshwater marsh and dune habitats on its way to the sea, forming a wildflower-covered wetland in the sand. Summer offers opportunities to sunbathe, swim, surf, sailboard and enjoy the beauty of this special park. The beach is an excellent vantage point for viewing the remaining natural bridge, as well as shore birds, migrating whales, seals and sea otters. Hours: 8am to Sunset

Great walk down to the lighthouse. No shade, a windy road that goes past the beaches on West Cliff Drive and ends at Surf Museum. Crowded with dog walkers, walkers, bikers, and runners especially on a nice day.

Quick little hike through the monarch butterfly preserve. Saw a deer, a few ducks near the swamp, and about four butterflies total. Mostly shaded.

bridge out
no shade
6 months ago

Agree with other review about bridge being out at beginning of trail through greenery area, along plank boardwalk. Trail was marked closed but we kept going just to see then had to turn around at creek crossing (~20 feet across) where bridge was out. Went back then down Monarch Trail to West Cliff Dr. It is all sidewalk after that but the views are amazing and there are multiple access points to lower parts of the cliffs and many benches. Gorgeous!

bridge out
7 months ago

This trail does not exist! I am a volunteer docent at Natural Bridges, the first part is not passable by the wetlands to the beach at this time and does not lead to tide pools . The part to lighthouse field is just the sidewalk along the coast ...a lovely walk. There are no Monarch clusters at this time of year try mid October through January !

Heavy foot traffic but a must see section of the Santa Cruz area

Nice beach but lots of sand flies. used to be 3 arches, now only one remains

Nice easy hike, minus the end. It was a bit of a steep climb to get to the beach that was hard with kids. Otherwise, pretty views and information/educational boards along the way.

It's an easy but beautiful hike. We even have the treat of seeing wild Monarch monarch butterflies nesting.

Thu Dec 28 2017

Took the trail few years back. Still remember the beautiful butter flies.

Very easy trail with great view of sunset

One of the best walks here in my hometown. It will not disappoint if you are looking for beautiful ocean views and people watching along Westcliff Dr. Natural Bridges beach is one of our best in my opinion come in the fall to see the Monarchs and the Great Whites.

Great place good hike

Quick, easy hike. Our favorite part was the section of the trail around the marshes. There is a great variety of plants, animals, and insects to observe. The signs are educational as well. This would be a good walk for kids, too.

The trail hasn't been maintained in a while. There was a few fallen trees and several broken bridges so we had to turn back several times.

Had an amazing time. Although the trail was not completely open we still enjoyed our selfs and the cliffs were beautiful. We Will be back for the butterflies in October.

First time there. Very nice.

Gorgeous views, but more of a walk. Great little beach area and a lovely waterfall. Watch out for the naked guy in the rocks.

Easy, breezy hike along the ocean with beautiful views of natural rock formations. Can walk farther along rocks in low tide.

Natural Bridges State Park is a great destination for relaxation and puttering about the beach. Almost every time I visit Santa Cruz, I typically like to take friends here to lay on the beach or explore tidepools. In the winter, there's migratory monarch butterflies watching too, although their numbers have decline significantly in recent years.

Monarch butterfly's come in October to march. Nice trail that ends at the beach with amazing views

Great variety of stuff to do! Had a fantastic time with my family today.

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