Explore the most popular no dogs 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.

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

I did this loop based on the high rating and the overall length of the hike and was VERY disappointed. I’m shocked it’s gotten such rave reviews as it is primarily walking on wide fire roads, and the coastal trail is more like walking around produce fields and along the old railroad track. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, sadly. I’m glad to say I’ve visited the park, though. Hope others have a better experience.

Excellent 12k running trail.

The creek is a great place for young kids to play, but the slope heading up from it is very steep. We had to carry our 2 year old in a SSC. The underbrush is very overgrown this time of year (July) and lots of poison oak to look out for. The “shortcut” across this loop is extremely overgrown and steep slippery sections. I wouldn’t really recommend it for young children. Without the app and an active data connection, we would not have found our way as the trail markings are terrible!

Great trail. I hiked with a full pack in preparation for an upcoming camping trip. Only saw about 6 people on the trail. 98% full tree coverage from the sun and zero bugs! A real treat for a Wisconsin native.

hiking
28 days ago

Beautiful easy “hike”. Really a walk. Gorgeous secluded beaches. Entertaining sea lion colony. Well worth it.

I hiked on Friday and not many people there. I customized the trail, i used the lower part of wilder ridge loops trails to horse trails, had to walked on the side of highway 1 for a bit since there are private vegetations across to reach to ohlone bluff trail. For the most part its not a shady trail, a lot of poison oaks at the lower wilder ridge loop trail. Recommending long pant, shade and water. Its an easy trail for the most part. In land trails are small but well marked.However, gps in this apps is so helpful.

hiking
1 month ago

I go on this hike every time I'm in Santa Cruz. The views are amazing and the hike is easy. Only bummer is that it can sometimes be pretty windy.

hiking
1 month ago

Came here for a 4th of July hike. We parked in the main parking lot, which cost $10 for all day parking. We walked through this cute area which was decorated for the fourth and it looked like a lot of families had come to enjoy the festivities.

You have to go through a tunnel under the main road to get to the trails and there are signs that let you know which trails you can hike on. Overall it was a good hike, had nice views and wasn't too strenuous. It took us about 2 and half hours to finish it. I just wish they had a few more signs letting people know which trail they are on, because for a while we didn't know if it was the right trail or not.There were quite a lot of bicyclists on the path way so just keep an eye out for them.

If you're looking for a relatively easy to moderate hike that's not too long, then go with this one. We chose this one because we weren't familiar with the area, and the fact that the trail was a loop was good because it kept us from getting lost.

Absolutely gorgeous! If you go down to the beaches with access points from the trail make sure and check out the caves. :)

Great trail. all routes are cleared from fallen trees, and gps matches the trail very good for most of the trail. enjoyed it very much.

mountain biking
1 month 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.

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
2 months 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
3 months 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.

3 months ago

Awesome hike

hiking
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

beautiful places

TICKS! EVERYWHERE!

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
4 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
4 months ago

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

walking
5 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
5 months ago

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

hiking
5 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

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!

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