Explore the most popular trails near Santa Cruz with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

walking

views

hiking

nature trips

birding

forest

wild flowers

no dogs

trail running

kid friendly

mountain biking

dogs on leash

wildlife

beach

surfing

river

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mountain biking
21 hours ago

I have mountain biked on the upper portion of this trail (expect the ocean part). The western side of the trail, Baldwin Loop, was unmaintained. The grass was as tall as myself, and covered everything -- you could barely see the trail. At some point, the grass turned into thisle, also as tall as myself! I had to unmount and carefully walk through all that thisle, but it was actually impossible to not get scratched.

Also, since you are basically touching the grass with all your body, you will be full of ticks after. You cannot avoid them.

I do not recommend going on the western side of the loop. Technically it is not a hard trail, but plowing through tall grass full of ticks is no fun.

The eastern side of the trail is much better. At some point you do cross another grass field, but the grass is not taller than knee high, and there is some room so that you can avoid touching the grass.

1 day ago

I grew up in this area and I feel shocked by how beautiful it is Everytime I walk this trail

on West Cliff Drive

15 days ago

Somewhat crowded, beautiful none the less.

Amazing views! However I recommend parking on the highway because parking costs $10. Dogs aren’t allowed on the property. There are signs warning of mountain lions. We didn’t see any of them, but we saw three different mounds of feces that clearly belonged to a mountain lion.

Really awesome and not busy at all. At one point the trail is overwhelmed by fallen trees. That’s why there is a warning sign at the start of the trail saying that the trail is closed at one spot due to a landslide. Really not a big deal. Just climb over the trees (the sign about the trail being closed at that particular spot is a few years old).

hiking
25 days ago

Between HWY 1 and eagles cutoff, the western part of Baldwin loop trail ( near the .6 mile marker ) is very overgrown. Were unable to make it all the way to eagles cutoff. Be aware of ticks, picked dozens off during and after the walk. Did not try the eastern side of the Baldwin loop trail , it might be better

Great trail with incredible views of the Monterey Bay. You will have to share the trail with the occasional mountain biker, but in general there is plenty of room.

Great chance to see a wide variety of birds of prey as well.

It's just over 5mi from the main parking lot. I had a 4.5yr old and 8yr old in tow and they both handled it well.

Would highly recommend this hike.

hiking
1 month ago

5/14/2018 I’m house sitting nearby and had to take advantage of having a flat, beautiful place to skate. It was really nice, but it was crowded for a Monday, and obviously on Saturday when I came with my dog it was packed. Also, a lot of the paved walkway is rough for boards that don’t have the right wheels. The street is good though, and on a weekday there aren’t too many cars, especially up closer to Natural Bridges. There is also a beach along the way where you can let your dog off leash before 10 am and after 4 pm. You’re basically in the heart of town here, close to the west side and downtown, so it is good for families with older or younger members. Riding bikes would be fun for kids. The wharf and boardwalk are at the south end and on the north end there is the monarch butterfly preserve, Antonelli Pond and Moore Creek Preserve. Lots to do.

hiking
1 month ago

This isn't much of a hike on its own, but it's a great way to end a hike at Wilder. After doing the Enchanted Loop, I headed down to 4 Mile Beach via this trail. The beach is a great place to relax after a long hike.

1 month ago

Awesome hike

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.

beautiful places

TICKS! EVERYWHERE!

trail running
1 month ago

peaceful, relaxing running path. great views and a few contact highs make for a nice morning run.

Don’t take this hike in the winter or early spring. We were prepared for a 6 mile hike but at the end of the loop, when we were supposed to cross the river and climb the hill back to the car, we found that the river was way too high to cross. What was supposed to be a 6 mile hike turned into a 10 mile hike. Also, this hike has you walking on train track (not pleasant) for a long time and then crossing a trestle. Wouldn’t you know it, the train came when we were right in the middle. This is a beautiful area but don’t take this hike.

walking
2 months ago

Touristy walk for sure but hey I was a New Yorker in Santa Cruz for the first time!! As a big fan of the "Lost Boys" I was super stoked to walk around where a portion of the movie was filmed. Stayed in a hotel right on Beach St and left the sliding glass door open all night so I could listen to the sea lions under the wharf.

hiking
2 months ago

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

Beautiful just after the rain! Make sure to check the map to follow the right trails; signs can be a bit unclear

walking
3 months ago

This is a crowded, touristy part of town, as it is right next to the Boardwalk and loads of hotels, but that is normal for a wharf. This is a great place to see wildlife Iike sea lions and sea birds. I wouldn’t recommend any of the restaurants, as they are mostly tourist traps, but there are telescopes at the end so you can look out over the bay and see Monterey on a clear day, so it is worth a walk to the end. Pair it with a drive or stroll on West Cliff and Cowell’s Beach, or a walk on the San Lorenzo River levee and stroll downtown. You’re close to lots of classic Santa Cruz spots here.

Great coastal walk and serene walk through the redwoods.

hiking
3 months ago

FAVORITE. Surely breathtaking views! It’s an easy trail, but let’s just enjoy the views.

hiking
3 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

walking
3 months ago

Easy relaxing paved path along the beach/coast for running/walking

Th state map was a bit confusing. The trail starts just to the right of the restrooms, follow the dirt path toward the ocean. We got distracted with all the beautiful views and side paths, so we didn’t complete the entire hike. Epic California coastline views!

Nice little hike along the coat. Stop to check out the fern grotto it’s a nice little cave with ferns hanging from the ceiling. Great views of the coast line!

An easy trail - well worn and wide. Mainly overlooking cliffs, but there are a few spots where you can easily descend to a beach. As far as California coastline goes, the views aren't spectacular but just okay. Seems like a nice couples or family outdoor time kind of place.

Easy hike with great access to the ocean. Could easily push a jogging stroller on this trail. Busy but not overcrowded. Limited parking on site.

Stunning sights, a nice walk with a few stopping points for who wants to read or just take a break.
Was very windy the day I went. Also very busy.
Awesome wildlife sightings (birds and sea mammals).
There’s a $10 fee to park if you go all the way to the Park itself - park on the road right before it if you can!

hiking
3 months ago

Nice loop trail that takes you by horse stables. If you take the counter-clockwise loop, it is an easier grade to go up. There is a massive slope on the stretch of the loop that parallels the creek. Great view and nice wildflowers. Quick hike.

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