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Bike, Hike & Horseback Riding

Bike, Hike & Horseback Riding

Resources > Activities, Arts & Attractions > Bike, Hike & Horseback Riding

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Big Basin

Boulder Creek
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Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California's oldest State Park, established in 1902. Home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco, the park consists of over 18,000 acres of old growth and recovering redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The climate ranges from foggy and damp near the ocean to sunny, warm ridge tops.


The park features family and group camping, tent cabins, backpacking camps, hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. The park is open year round and reservations are encouraged during the summer.


The park has over 80 miles of trails. Be sure and pick up a map at park headquarters before your hike and take a look at the multimedia kiosk in the Sempervirens Room (next to park headquarters). There you will find great information, photos, and video of some of the most popular trails.


Some trails link Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range. The Skyline to the Sea Trail threads its way through the park along Waddell Creek to the beach and adjacent Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve, a freshwater marsh.


The park has a surprising number of waterfalls and a wide variety of environments from lush canyon bottoms to sparse chaparral-covered slopes. Many animals such as deer, raccoon, coyote, fox, an occasional bobcat, mountain lion, and many bird species--including California quail, egret, heron, hawk, owl, woodpecker, and the endangered marbled murrelet--call Big Basin home. And of course there are always plenty of banana slugs!


Address: 21600 Big Basin Way

Bike Smart

831-426-5925 ext
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Bike Smart!  Youth Bicycle Safety Program coordinates with schools and community organizations to teach bicycling skills to Santa Cruz County youth. The Bike Smart! program has established several health and safety related goals.


Program Goals!

Reduce the collision rates of young bicyclists

Increase safe, legal bicycling practices among youth Increase use and proper fit of bicycle helmets

Advocate and empower youth to use bicycles for transportation

Promote exercise and healthy life-styles through bicycling

Educate youth to Share the Road as bicyclists and as future motorists

Inform participants of local bicycling resources: bicycle routes, organizations and events Generate interest in safe, recreational bicycling

Castle Rock State Park

Los Gatos
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Located along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Castle Rock State Park contains numerous plant communities and the steep canyons are sprinkled with unusual rock formations that are popular with rock climbers. The park is crisscrossed by 32 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. These trails are part of a more extensive trail system that links the Santa Clara and San Lorenzo valleys with Castle Rock State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the Pacific Coast.



Address: 15000 Skyline Boulevard

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

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Henry Cowell features 15 miles of hiking and riding trails through the forest. There is a picnic area next to the San Lorenzo River. The park has a nature center and bookstore. Adjoining the park is Roaring Camp Railroad, offering visitors a chance to journey back in time on an old steam locomotive. The main park area, containing the large, old-growth redwoods, is about 1,750 acres, and the northern area (Fall Creek) is 2,390 acres, with about 20 miles of hiking trails.



Address: 101 North Big Trees Park Road

Mystery Spot, The

Santa Cruz
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Located in the redwood forest just above Santa Cruz, attraction has puzzled many. The laws of physics don't seem to apply and it appears as if every law of gravitation has gone haywire. Come see for yourself why this is one of the most visited spots in Santa Cruz.

Address: 465 Mystery Spot Road

Portola Redwoods State Park

La Honda
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     The park is in a rugged, natural basin forested with coast redwoods, Douglas fir and live oak. Eighteen miles of trails crisscross the canyon and several streams, notably Slate Creek, Peters Creek and Pescadero Creek. Trails also connect to trails in adjacent parks. The Sequoia Self-guided Nature Trail and Old Tree Trail introduce visitors to the natural history of the area. The park has one of the tallest redwoods (over 300 feet high) in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

     The Portola Campground is closed from December 1st to May 1st. Also, in severe weather the park might be closed.  Fill your gas tank before driving to the park. Closest gas is 14 miles from the park, in Sky Londa. Closest store is 9 miles from the park in La Honda.

56 Family campsites, 6 backpack sites, 4 group sites. No camping December 1st through March 31st. Reservations required. See General Info, below, for more information.


Address: 9000 Portola State Park Road, #F

Quail Ridge Riding Club



Rancho Del Oso State Park

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     The Center occupies a ranch-style house and grounds which were once the home of Hulda Hoover McLean. It now consists of an intimate, protected courtyard surrounded by a main meeting room, exhibit rooms, gift shop, and a large deck overlooking Waddell Valley and the Pacific Ocean.

     Waddell Beach, located across Highway 1 from the park entrance, is known worldwide as one of the best spots for windsurfing. The steady strong northwest winds and good surf provide ideal conditions for this demanding sport. For those interested in birding, botany, intertidal marine life and riparian habitat, the Waddell Beach and the many Rancho del Oso trails offer superb recreation for the amateur or professional naturalist. Regular surfers, boogie boarders, and surf fishermen also find it an ideal spot to pursue their activities.

North from Santa Cruz on Hwy 1 for 17 miles to the Waddell Creek Bridge.

Just before crossing the bridge, turn right at the sign and continue on the dirt road.

Visitor Center: Weekends Noon - 4pm, or by advance appointment to groups

Horse trail camps for reservations call 831-425-1218
Trail camps for reservations call 831-338-8861


Address: 3600 Highway 1

Redwood Riding Adventures


Available for private guided rides of 2-5 maximum in the redwoods. Lessons, boarding, leasing, natural horsemanship camps for all ages. Must make an appointment.

Address: 365 Manzanita

Santa Cruz in Motion - Fitness for Families

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Santa Cruz in Motion is dedicated to providing quality health and fitness programs for families living in Santa Cruz County. Their programs are designed to incorporate fun, fitness and healthy living into every family's life. Customized programs encourage parents and children alike to find harmony and balance in their everyday lives.

The Forest of Nisene Marks

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(Site Photos) ParkNisene.jpgThe Forest of Nisene Marks The park offers 10,000 acres of rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet. The site of logging operations until the 1920s, visitors can still find evidence of logging operations, mill sites and trestles in the park. The land was purchased by the Marks family in the 1950s, and was donated to the state in 1963. There are 30 miles of trails nestled in this second growth forest, which are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, or a leisurely stroll. Horses are allowed on a portion of the fire road and some trails. A number of picnic areas are available with charcoal grills. Dogs are allowed on fire roads only, and must be on leash.

Primitive trail camping available, reservations required. See General Info, below, for camping information details.

The weather can vary from cool to hot within a few hours. Layered clothing is advised.

Pit toilets
Picnic areas, Food, lodging, and supplies nearby

Dogs are allowed on leash on the fire road up to the Porter Picnic area.

More Camping Information Primitive trail camping available--6 campsites, 6 mile intermediate hike one way, 6 people per site. $5 per person, per night. Reservations required. Call 831-763-7073 to reserve. NOTE: Water is not available. You must bring your own water.

JUVENILES (those under 18 years of age), not camping with a parent or legal guardian must have WRITTEN permission to camp in the park. Permission letters must include the name of the park, the name of the juvenile, the dates they may stay and the name, address, phone number and signature of the person's parent or legal guardian. The parent must be reachable at all times during the juvenile's visit. Children 14 years of age and under may not camp without a parent present during the stay.


Address: Aptos Creek Rd & Soquel

Wilder Ranch State Park

Santa Cruz
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(Site Photos) WilderRanchWagonride.jpgThe park covers approximately 7,000 acres, with 34 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails winding through coastal terraces and valleys. You can explore the history of early ranchers and farmers along the Central Coast through tours and living history demonstrations. The grounds include Victorian homes, barns, shops, gardens, and a historic adobe. Major wetlands restoration projects have attracted some of the original flora and fauna back to the area. Dogs are not allowed at Wilder Ranch.


* Almost 7,000 acres of coastal landscapes
* 5.0 miles of coastline
* More than 35 miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists & equestrians
* 20,580 people attended educational programs in 2005
* Almost 3,000 local school children served in 2005
* Home to at least 22 rare and sensitive species

Address: 1401 Old Coast Road

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