Mountain Biking in Santa Cruz County
BY STACEY PETERSON
From mellow rollers beside the ocean to technical singletrack through the redwoods, Santa Cruz is a mountain bike Mecca with spectacular terrain and views to match.
If a relaxed pedal with amazing views is what you are after Wilder Ranch is your ride. Located on the coast just a few miles from downtown Santa Cruz, this area is truly a favorite among locals and visitors.
With the number of trails available and variety of terrain from smooth fire roads to spurts of singletrack you can customize your experience at Wilder Ranch. The reward is great, amazing coastal views, without having to invest a lot of time or energy.
Advanced riders who crave fast technical singletrack, are ready to climb and equipped with a full-suspension bike will appreciate the legendary free ride and cross-country destination known as the Demo. Located in the forest of Nisene Marks is the Soquel Demonstration Forest Mountain Bike Trail, located just south of Santa Cruz, in Aptos, home to the Annual Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival. Earn that pint at the end of the day by riding the Braille Trail one of the downhill sections off the Ridge Trail. With lots of great drops, banks and obstacles this playful downhill won’t disappoint.
Looking for a way to skip all that nasty uphill and get after the downhill, well we can make that happen. Shuttle Smith Adventures offers daily bike rides to the top of the Forest of Nisene Marks. When you finish the ridge ride in Soquel you will have 15 glorious miles of downhill through the Redwoods ending back in the Aptos Village.
If a destination ride is what you are after check out Skyline-to-the-Sea trail, which lands you at some amazing waterfalls. Located in California’s oldest State Park, established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods State Park consists of over 18,000 acres with some of the largest redwoods south of San Francisco.
A moderate to ambitious beginner will be fine on this not too technical ride. The 11 mile out and back is the only portion of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail that allows bikes, however when you arrive at the Berry Creek Falls Trail it’s simply a short half mile hike to the falls.