Explore the most popular forest 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.

hiking
10 days 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.

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.

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
1 month 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
2 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.

2 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.

hiking
3 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

hiking
4 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

mountain biking
4 months ago

A little challenging for beginners like me but I had a blast. It really is a nice trail.

mountain biking
5 months ago

Wilder Ranch has lots of trails, super fun.

Don't get me wrong...the scenery is beautiful no matter where you go. I had to give this 1 star because the trails were so poorly marked and washed out that we never actually made it to most of the hike. We spent the whole time following random trails that went nowhere. We are experienced hikers so we still had fun. No trail maps either. Bummer.

Very beautiful. Lots of fallen trees right now near the creek, but relatively easy to scramble over.

I like this place a lot for what it is. Obviously is and feels heavily trodden, has a lot of human history, but it’s a great green space to escape to in the heart of town, and it is undeniably beautiful with it’s mix of riparian habitats, open prairie, coastal chaparral, and second growth coastal redwood. As SC has a heavy mtn biking culture, every trail has specific designations for whether it can be utilized by bikers, hikers, dog walkers, and equestrians. 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 BrayshawTrail to connect back to Spring trail. At the risk of a $70 ticket, and staying on trails which forbade bikers, I let my well-behaved dog off leash for the whole loop. I parked on Golf Club Dr., picked up a map, and took Lower Meadow Trail to the club house; then Brayshaw up to Spring Trail. You can also cut through the prairie for a wonderful open feeling. My dog had a friendly off leash encounter with a confident coyote on the way back at sunset in the middle of the big prairie; this was fun and exciting for the both of us, but dog owners/parents of young children beware, there is a large, active, and fearless coyote population here.

Beautiful trail, i enjoyed finding the mushrooms :)

mountain biking
6 months ago

Fun trail steep at the beginning but lots of views my 9 year old made it to the top

hiking
7 months ago

Nice little 45 min loop. Good if you’re looking for something quick, easy to navigate and free. Free parking in small lot across from golf course club house. Access upper redwood trail through gate near blue gas tank. There was a wider, flatter loop lower down that looked good for running. Not quite sure where the best way to access that would be.

mountain biking
7 months ago

Beautiful!

hiking
7 months ago

Free parking. No parking 10pm-6am

hiking
7 months ago

Free parking and lots of poison oak. But beautiful trail

hiking
7 months ago

It was an interesting hike, but we were hoping for more dramatic views of the city. At one point we were able to see all the way across the bay to Monerrey. We had no trouble finding the trail head from this track but when we returned, we followed the Harvey West trail to the park, which was closer to where we parked anyway.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike - Trailhead easy to find - a lot of parking first thing in the AM - Great redwoods - crossing the first few streams were easy however after mile 5 it became a little more pf a challenge. You take Ox Trail on the backend. You then take a left to go down to the San Lorenzo River however the left isnt well marked at all. Crossing the River was a little harder on this part of the hike in that the water was up to my upper thigh.... and cold. I will come back but skip the loop

I wanted something relatively flat with decent mileage as a warm up for something later that same day, and this 100% delivered. Super chill, fairly scenic.

I did try and have my hike “uploaded/ tracked” on here, but no dice!

hiking
9 months ago

Great hike! Very quiet trail. The fork leading to Big Rock Hole is a bit misleading as there is a tree laying over the trail. Just climb over it and keep going! Beautiful place.

Great balance of forest, field and view of Santa Cruz.

trail running
10 months ago

There are three levels of trails and all of them run parallel (lower, middle, and upper). They are easy to follow, but this AllTrails map is really hard to follow because not all of the trails are marked. The trails are in pretty good condition for running. We were able to run 5 miles. The lower redwood loop is pretty. Lots of shade on all the trails. I took one star off because there were many dogs off leash. It's nerve wracking to run around a corner and be face to face with an unleashed dog. Leash your dogs!

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