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Natural Bridges to Lighthouse Field Loop

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Natural Bridges State Beach

Natural Bridges to Lighthouse Field Loop is a 4.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Santa Cruz, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips.

Distance: 4.8 miles Elevation Gain: 121 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly


nature trips





wild flowers


no dogs

Please note: This beach continues to be temporarily closed to vehicular access, meaning there are no parking facilities and parking on roadways is prohibited to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the beach is open to local residents. Explore tide pools and beach habitat at Natural Bridges State Park, a beautiful and popular place to walk. In this oasis between the ocean and the edge of Santa Cruz lies one of the largest monarch butterfly overwintering sites in the western United States. The park also includes large coastal scrub meadows that in spring are filled with native wildflowers. In 1983, California State Parks made the monarch grove a natural preserve and sanctuary for these fragile world travelers. Monarchs journey as far as 2,000 miles on their paper-thin wings, seeking protected places like this one where they can find food, warmth and shelter. This grove provides the ideal conditions for the butterflies—and for you to see them. Look through the spotting scope to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking sight of hundreds of monarchs clustered together in the canopy. The park also includes large coastal scrub meadows that in spring are filled with native wildflowers. Moore Creek flows through the meadows and forms wetlands in the sand. Walk even further along the bluffs when it is low tide.

18 days ago

Definitely don’t consider this a “hike”. Just a walk along the path. Nice picturesque views along the way though. Very busy.

Very busy

5 months ago

suuuuper fun awesome trail and very short

no shade
Fri Jun 07 2019

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.

bridge out
no shade
Thu May 16 2019

Mon Apr 22 2019

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
Fri Apr 19 2019

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 !

Sat Sep 01 2018

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

Mon Aug 13 2018

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

Sat Jan 06 2018

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.

Mon Jan 01 2018

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.

Thu Nov 09 2017

Very easy trail with great view of sunset

Tue Oct 17 2017


Thu Aug 17 2017

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.

Sun Jun 25 2017

Great place good hike

Mon Jun 12 2017

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.

Sun Jun 11 2017

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.

Tue May 30 2017

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.

Sat May 13 2017

First time there. Very nice.

Sun Dec 11 2016

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

Thu Jul 14 2016

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

nature trips
Mon Feb 10 2014

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.

Mon Jul 29 2013

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

Sun May 05 2013

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

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