Explore the most popular forest trails in Wilder Ranch 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.

The Enchanted Loop trail is actually just a bit of a small, circular trail sitting around a bunch of other trails. In-and-of itself, Enchanted Loop is pretty decent. Much of the trail (the western and northern sides) is through a pretty dense forest, lots of trees and shade surrounding you. The eastern and southern sides are more exposed, but there's also a good chance of seeing deer if you go at the right time (I was taking this part of the trail around 6 PM). I would suggest you take this trail in a clockwise fashion, as taking it counter-clockwise will put you at a pretty strenuous incline as you exit the wooded area (taking it clockwise, it's largely downhill on the west and then a very gradual uphill on the east).

Now, here's the thing about Enchanted Loop - you have to get to it via another trail. If you look at the trail map of Wilder Ranch State Park, you can see that you can really choose your own route depending on how long you want to be out hiking. The most direct route, though, is Baldwin Loop - which is what the map for this trail has you taking. HOWEVER, it has you taking West Baldwin Loop, which is AWFUL. Getting to Enchanted Loop via West Baldwin Loop (the western side of it) is pretty off-putting, as that part of the trail is largely overgrown with a ton of sharp and thorny plants - it is no fun to hike through. There are also a ton of ticks on that side as you go through all the plants, so if you DO go this route (which I suggest you don't), take care to cover your skin well.

Instead, I suggest taking East Baldwin Loop (I've suggested a map edit to this trail as well). If you look at the trail map, you'll see another section of Baldwin Loop on the east that will also take you to Enchanted Loop. This route, while resulting in a longer (though more gradual) incline is a much more enjoyable trail. It's wider, clearer, has better views, and isn't overgrown with sharp plants that you get tangled up in. Instead, it's surrounded by white, yellow, and purple wild flowers at the start/end. I'll be adding photos, so you can see what I mean. The only downside to this route is that there's much less parking at this entrance than there is for the West Baldwin Loop entrance. Taking East Baldwin Loop easily turns this trail from a 1 to a 4.

Also, once you're done, I suggest going down to Four Mile Beach - it's really close by and is a great place to relax after a long hike. I think hiking this trail and then having a picnic on the beach is a pretty good date activity, if you don't mind ending up a little sweaty on your dates.

TICKS! EVERYWHERE!

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike but make sure to check yourself after for ticks.

hiking
2 months ago

I like Wilder a lot, and this loop is so beautiful in many ways, but the dump as you’re descending the ridge on the north side of the loop is kind of a buzzkill: trash strewn along fence, smells, noise, etc. Also, this is a big mountain biking spot, so I have to be extra careful if I want to let my dog off leash on the main part of the loop because people can come down pretty fast. I like it best on weekday mornings when it is most quiet. The views are spot on and there are great wildflowers, but it’s worth it to add in the Enchanted Loop to get more diversity of environment, but I’m just a person who likes forest settings best!

A favorite

mountain biking
3 months ago

Wilder Ranch has lots of trails, super fun.

mountain biking
4 months ago

Fun trail steep at the beginning but lots of views my 9 year old made it to the top

mountain biking
5 months ago

Beautiful!

hiking
5 months ago

Free parking. No parking 10pm-6am

This trailhead is a bit hidden to the naked eye. It's located in a small turnout on the right hand side if you where driving down from empire. To access Woodcutters trail there is a fire road you must walk alongside the road to find maybe 2/10ths a mile. walk this fireroad and you will find an intersection with official trail and milage markers. There are some trails/fire roads that are apart of Wilder Ranch, some of which are not maintained. Although woodcutters seems to be in a good condition as bikers use this path quite often.

I wanted something relatively flat with decent mileage as a warm up for something later that same day, and this 100% delivered. Super chill, fairly scenic.

I did try and have my hike “uploaded/ tracked” on here, but no dice!

hiking
8 months ago

Good uphill climb counter-clockwise. Recommend not doing the full loop, after passing the enchanted loop turnoff, the trail is covered in poison oak for about a mile and half...not very enjoyable. We went on a cloudy day, so the view wasn't anything, but could see how on a clear day, it would be pretty.

My favorite hike in the bay area. I like the mix of mountain and sea elements and the diversity of runners, walkers and mountain bikers. Something for everyone.

This trail does not seem to exist any more, at least from Smith Grade Rd. We tried very hard to find the trail head and could not.

This is my favorite place to hike in Santa Cruz. There are a lot of trails, but the best is taking Baldwin Trail to the Enchanted Loop (a fairy tail-esque forest). On the way back down you'll get breathtaking views of the sparkling Pacific. It's about 5.4 miles round trip and there's an option to take a steeper trail up to Enchanted Loop, so you get a good workout. The only downside is that the trails are not well marked and you can turn a 2 hour hike into a 4 hour hike if you're not careful.

Beautiful hike - the canopied forest of the Enchanted Loop, as well as the view of the ocean on the way down are amazing. Definitely bring water and use sunscreen and bug spray. The only downside is that signage is not super clear.

hiking
10 months ago

Ideal place to mountain biking where you can oversee the ocean . Parking at wilder ranch parking lot , walking through historic farm houses and tunnel under highway 1, then you are on the trail north of highway 1. It takes 40 minutes before you can get in the shades in hills , so prepare hat and enough water are essential .

hiking
10 months ago

Highly unmaintained at this time of the year. Full of bugs and horse waste. Will try it again in Spring.

hiking
11 months ago

Gorgeous loop! The full loop is a little overgrown on the back end along the fence, so be prepared for poison oak and thistles if you decide to do the full loop, otherwise the Zane Gray shortcut is lovely! Be prepared for a steep incline either way!

hiking
11 months ago

We hiked this trail in early April. The wildflowers are gorgeous, and this trail gives you everything, meadows, ocean views, wooded areas. The downside was that it wasn't very well marked. We got lost a few times. However, we would certainly hike it again, now that we are more familiar with it!

It's beautiful the view is breathtaking. Only issue the trails are not clear very easily you could get lost

Nice views. I did a smaller loop but still a nice hike. Pretty sunny day, so I probably should've gone earlier but still super nice. Most of the trail os wide enough, just keep an eye out for bikers on the narrower parts. :)

hiking
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Green open grass land wide trails beautiful area. We got a little lost because one of the markers fell over. So our loop was a little under 6 miles. By the way, access to trail is through the preserve ranch area in the back and through a tunnel. A few folks got lost and kept going. No sign that mentions this ...

hiking
Sunday, January 01, 2017

I head out to Wilder Ranch often. Lots of awesome trails and so many different things to see; ocean, caves, flowers, open fields, mountains, trees and of course wild life. Its a beautiful place in almost all seasons. Make sure you bring all weather clothes, it can be cold or hot at any time.

hiking
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Such stunning views of the coast!

So gorgeous, and an easy hike

mountain biking
Monday, August 15, 2016

My boyfriend and I had a blast riding this train! Will definitely come back

walking
Monday, July 18, 2016

Beautiful and easy trail. It can get warm especially on clear a clear say. Although it is an easy walk trail, bring water, snack, and a hat!

Love the views!

hiking
Thursday, November 12, 2015

Beautiful views of the Pacific, good changes in elevation so you get a little work out in, too, and a hidden redwood forest with a stream. We took Baldwin Loop to Enchanted Loop for a 5.4 mile RT hike.

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