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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.

Length 4.8 mi Elevation gain 121 ft Route type Out & Back
Wheelchair friendly Kid friendly Stroller friendly Hiking Nature trips Walking Running Beach Views Wild flowers Wildlife No dogs
Description
Waypoints (6)
Facilities
Contact
Tips

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. Accessibility: The beginning of this trail from the Natural Bridges parking lot to the coastline may be too steep and have too many switchbacks to be accessible but the three miles along the coastline on the West Cliff Multi-Purpose Cycleway that goes to Lighthouse Field State Beach is paved and mostly flat with a max grade of 3%. There is waypoint marking the beginning of this bike path on the map, and there is a parking lot right next to that point on the coast for closer parking.

Park at the Natural bridges Parking Area

Natural Bridges State Beach official website http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=541

Wi-Fi access available with wireless enabled laptop computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to access the Internet. Park visitors will be able to gain Wi-Fi access when they use a wireless device within about 150 to 200 feet of the Visitor Center in the park. Please, do not touch or throw objects at the fragile butterflies. For everyone's enjoyment, no smoking, dogs, bicycles, skates, or skateboards on the boardwalk. Quiet please. Monarchs and other visitors are relaxing. There are monarch tours on weekends from mid-October through February. Celebrate the monarchs' return with the Welcome Back Monarchs Day in October and their departure at the Migration Festival in February.

Weather
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Reviews (112)
Photos (264)
Recordings (99)
Completed (676)
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Jimmy P
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 24, 2020
HikingGreat!

Its a walk--Not a hike. Great ocean views. Totally level. Remember to mask-up when passing. 10:00 Car park I walked it light house to bridges and back. 10:45. Visitor center at natural bridges 11:25. Car and Lighthouse

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Jesus Escobar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 23, 2020
Mountain biking
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Lisa Rivalin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 8, 2020
Hiking

Super relaxing and easy.

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Gregory Stornetta
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
Walking

Paved path, shared with lots of people, bicycles, skateboards and dogs. Amazing views the whole way.

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Jeni Honsal
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 18, 2020
Walking

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

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Emily Hudson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 7, 2020
HikingRockyScramble

suuuuper fun awesome trail and very short

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Helene M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 7, 2019
HikingNo shade

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.

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Zech Engdahl
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 16, 2019
HikingBridge outNo shade
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Akwai Hinman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 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!

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Diane Seaborn Brown
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 19, 2019
HikingBridge out

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 !

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Ralph Ceseña Jr
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 13, 2018

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

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Gabi Brittsan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 6, 2018
Hiking

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.

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Mike Gonsalves
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 1, 2018

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

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Qingyi Wang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 9, 2017

Very easy trail with great view of sunset

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Cynthia Preciado
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 17, 2017

Tue

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Victoria Kimble-Medina
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 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.

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VINCENTE OCHOA
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 25, 2017

Great place good hike

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Vanessa Reed
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 12, 2017
Hiking

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.

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Gabriela Ornelas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 11, 2017
Hiking

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.

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Destiny Vargas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 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.

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Mark Livesay
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 13, 2017

First time there. Very nice.

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Kristen Taylor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 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.

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Katlin Lakota
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 14, 2016

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

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Elaine Yu
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 10, 2014
Nature trips

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.

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Jennifer Adams
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 29, 2013
Hiking

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

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Rochelle Burns Pierce
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 5, 2013
Hiking
First to Review

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

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Tak Nishida
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 21, 2020
Hiking
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Mary Tang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2020
Hiking
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