Fern Trail, Spring Trail and Lookout Trail Loop

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Pogonip Open Space Preserve

Fern Trail, Spring Trail and Lookout Trail Loop is a 4.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Santa Cruz, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Length4.6 miElevation gain659 ftRoute typeLoop
kid friendlyHikingNature tripsWalkingBird watchingRunningForestViewsWildflowersWildlife
Description
Waypoints (0)

Lookout Trail is NOT dog friendly, and if you are doing this loop as it is done in the title with a pooch, you will have to turn north on the western edge of the large prairie after Fern Trail onto Brayshaw Trail to connect back to Spring trail. Enjoy the wonder of the Pogonip open Space Preserve. This scenic loop offers a connection between Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Pogonip, and the upper UCSC campus.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (181)
Photos (336)
Recordings (184)
Completed (367)
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Regina Langhout
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Hiking

Far too many people were on the trail without masks. We won't return to this trail until the pandemic is over.

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Dina Deleon
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HikingGreat!

Very nice place for a hike. Labyrinth was cool to see and lots of beautiful trees. A great place in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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Guy Maor
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great trail! be sure to detour to visit the quarry at the west end. The homeless shelter is easy to avoid as others have noted

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Stuart Easson
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Fishing
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Mike Wexler
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Hiking

Nice trail. Couple of big trees fell across trail and required some scrambling.

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Alberto Cuevas
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Hiking
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Katie Bloudoff
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Hiking

Good for dogs. Wide trail easy hiking. Beautiful.

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Katie Bloudoff
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Hiking

No dogs allowed!! Whoever said this was good for dogs, there are signs posted everywhere: no dogs.

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Karina Martinez
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Bird watchingGreat!

Beautiful trail it is very packed one you are on the lookout trail. A lot of people complain about the homeless people in the beginning of the trail if you stay on the trail to the right you avoid that entire area.

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Jp Jones
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Hiking

Stay away from this trail unless you enjoy seeing people do meth and heroin in broad daylight . Homeless people have nearly completely taken over the start and end portion and are very territorial. Some tents are set up directly on the trail blocking hikers.

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marcel manzardo
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Hiking
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Rakhal Turcotte
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Hiking

Hiked it clockwise and it took 1:45. The wide fire road portion was a bit busy but once we left that trail we only saw 2 other people for the rest of the hike. Most importantly we saw NO MOUNTAIN BIKES!!! It’s beautiful and shaded and well maintained. Some parts at the end required me to look at the map on my phone to keep from taking a wrong turn.

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AY YG
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Hiking

First and last half mile have homeless people living in tents. Stick to the right and you’ll avoid them. The path is narrow in the beginning and end. Otherwise the wooded forest is very zen and peaceful. There are moderate traffic along the hike.

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Donna Shin
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Hiking

Other than the homes less tents at the beginning, which you can completely avoid by starting to the right, it was a very nice trail run with various scenery in the forest and in the open.

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Alexandria Melton
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Hiking

Great running trail. Terrain varies, but is predominantly flat. Some sections have poison oak close to the trail, other areas are wide open Meadows. Spring Trail cuts through the redwoods. Great way to spend an hour or two.

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Katherine Gates
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Hiking
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Kai Mitchell Brantley
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RunningGreat!

Quick response: it’s a great trail, the first half mile has some homeless encampments and the signage on the trail isn’t super great, but it really is a beautiful and great loop. Definitely runnable. More in-depth response: It’s a beautiful trail. Right at the beginning (first half mile or so) theres always some homeless folks camped out, but from my experience they’ve always been harmless. However, if you’re someone who might feel nervous running through some light homeless encampments this might not be the trail for you. Also for that first half mile or so it is best to stay on the trail, I’ve seen a number of used needles in the surrounding bushes. Once way you get past that first switch back it’s smooth sailing. And man it is Beautiful. The trail gets pretty narrow in some parts, and is not always super well maintained during off season (there’s a tree down right now (November 2020) blocking the path, you can still get through, you just have to bush wack a little). I love running this trail, it has a few really fun downhills and just enough roots in the path to keep me on my toes. The one thing that is troublesome for a lot of people is how poorly the signage is done. It’s a pretty strait forward trail but there are a lot of intersections that could lead to problems if you’re not familiar with the area. I recommend bring a map or downloading the area onto your phone/gps. All that being said, it’s still one of my favorite loops to run in Santa Cruz.

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Jimmy P
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Hiking

Easy parking next to friendship park. Homeless camps and trash in the beginning make it feel a little sketchy. But gets better as you move along trail. 7:30. Car. Elevation: 86 Highway noise, warehouse and homeless trash leftovers 8:00. Labrythith elevation: 500 Trail becomes so much better with highway noise less loud and trees 8:20. Top of trail elevation: 463 8:45. Shed, tennis court, house 9:12. Car

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Aileen Luo
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Hiking

Some homeless encampments a bit dark and didn’t feel safe

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Heather Baker Horgan
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Hiking
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Srihari Murali
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Hiking
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Srihari Murali
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Hiking
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Martin Goddard
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Hiking

Good easy hike, but as many other reviewers mentioned, very easy get off trail. Use GPS

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Kacey Borin
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Hiking

Gorgeous trail! Went clockwise and got a nice lookout view over Santa Cruz. Nice mix of sun and shade, really cool to see the different ecotones & ecosystems. Did spurts of running and some walking while spending time with the plants :) just be careful of poison oak, familiarize yourself and stick to the trail especially in the mixed sun/shade regions where there’s dense ground cover

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Jane Sykes
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Running

This was about 5 miles, not 4.6. Good for running!!

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Kristi Koenig
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HikingBugsOver grown
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Kimberly Yao
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HikingBugs

Great trail with lots of shade, poison oak, bugs, and wildlife (saw 2 deer near trailhead, 1 snake near the ranger station, and 1 coyote near the end). The trail starts off in the Friendship Garden of Harvey West Park, and we spent a good 20 minutes getting lost after that. You want to follow the sign for Pogonip (not HWP Loop trail) for some uphill climbing until you get to the elevated but flat loop.

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Raymond S
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Hiking

Confusing beginning section

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Lindsey R
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Hiking

Trail starts on a pretty much uphill climb but is fairly easy. The whole loop is about 4.5 miles and most of it is flat. The trail is easily marked but I suggest having the map on the app handy. There are different trails throughout so know your route ahead of time. What we liked the most is that this hike has variety in landscape. We were pleasantly surprised by the change in fauna. If you’re looking for redwoods, this is a good hike for it, although not all trees are redwoods. Overal a good hike and I would do it again.

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