Start the New Year with an Inspiring Hike

All Photos by Garrick Ramirez

All Photos by Garrick Ramirez

Say “Auld Lang Syne” to holiday indulgences and start the New Year fresh with an inspiring hike in a beautiful setting. On January 1st, state parks throughout the country will ring in 2016 with First Day Hikes, a fourth annual program that offers free, guided hikes to all.

Below, we’ve assembled a guide to outings being offered in Santa Cruz County. Hikes vary in length and rigor but all are designed with families in mind. So add a warm jacket and some outdoor gear to your holiday list and hit the trails with us on New Years Day.

Wilder Ranch - Hikes

Big Basin

BIG BASIN REDWOODS STATE PARK

Meteor Trail at 10:30 am
This excursion will immerse visitors in a diverse setting of old-growth redwoods, mountain streams, oak woodlands.
Length: 6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Children & Pets: Recommended minimum age is 8 accompanied by a parent. No pets.
Bring: Water, lunch, and hiking shoes
Meeting Location: Park Headquarters at 10:30 am
Cancellation Info: Rain cancels. Call 831-338-8861 for updates.

Shadowbrook Trail at 12:00 pm
Explore a less-traveled trail to visit Union Creek and the Sempervirens Falls.
Length
: 4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Children & Pets: Recommended minimum age is 8 accompanied by parent. No pets.
Things to bring: Water, lunch, and hiking shoes
Meeting Location: Park Headquarters at 12:00 pm
Cancellation Info: Call 831-338-8861 for updates.

Redwood Loop Trail at 1:00 pm
Marvel at some of the park’s most impressive old-growth redwood trees on this fun and informative walk.
Difficulty: Easy
Children: All ages are welcome.
Length: 0.6 mile
Bring: Water
Meeting Location: Park Headquarters at 1:00 pm
Cancellation Info: 831-338-8861

Henry Cowell

Henry Cowell

HENRY COWELL REDWOODS STATE PARK

Old-Growth Redwood Loop to Cable Car Beach at 10:30 am
Stroll under old-growth redwoods on this two hour outing.
Length: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Children & Pets: Recommended minimum age is 6 accompanied by a parent. No pets
Bring: Layers, walking shoes, and water
Meeting Location: Visitors Center at 10:30 am
Cancellation Info: Heavy Rain Cancels. Call 831-335-4598 or 831-335-8418 for updates.

“A River Wild” (River Trail) at 11 am
Explore some of the park’s least visited back-country, through the riparian forest of the San Lorenzo River canyon, on this four hour hike.
Length: 5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate; maximum elevation change is 500 ft.
Children & Pets: Recommended minimum age is 13. No pets.
Things to bring: Layers, walking shoes, a trail lunch, and water
Meeting Location: Nature Store (edge of parking lot) at 11:00 am
Cancellation Info: Heavy rain cancels. Call 831-335-4598 or 831-335-8418 for updates.

“Critter Safari” from 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Uncover the hidden lives of forest animals as we search for signs left behind by deer, hawks, ducks, bobcats, and lizards on this 1.5 hour leisurely walk.
Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Children & Pets: Recommended minimum age is 6 accompanied by a parent. No pets.
Bring: Layers, walking shoes, and water
Meeting Location: Nature Store (edge of parking lot) at 1:00 pm
Cancellation Info: Heavy rain cancels; call 831-335-4598 or 831-335-8418 for updates.

Wilder Ranch

Wilder Ranch

WILDER RANCH STATE PARK

Tour of the Grey Whale Ranch Area at 9 am
Discover the upper hills of this expansive park with plenty of history, nature, and knock-out views.
Length: 12 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Children & Pets: Recommended minimum age is 12. No pets.
Bring: Lunch, snacks, layers, walking shoes, and water; binoculars recommended.
Meeting Location: Interpretive Center at 9:00 am
Cancellation Info: Rain Cancels. For updates, call (831) 426-0505.

Wilder Ranch Coast Nature Walk at 10 am
Delight in the plants, animals, geology, and spectacular views of Wilder Ranch’s coastal bluffs on this two hour natural history outing.
Length: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Children: Recommended minimum age is 6 accompanied by parent
Bring: Layers, Walking shoes, snack and water; binoculars are recommended
Meeting Location: Interpretive Center at 10:00 am
Cancellation Info: Rain Cancels. For updates, call (831) 426-0505.

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