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Travel BLOG
February 23, 2017

Pair Your Favorite Path With a Pint

All Photos by Garrick Ramirez

There’s no shortage of great hiking and quality craft beer in Santa Cruz. So why not combine them? Below, we’ve paired some of our favorite trails with a nearby spot to enjoy a post-hike pint of local brew!

The Forest of Nisene Marks

Otherworldly redwoods, meandering Aptos Creek, and the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake are just some of the notable features found at this park named for the woman who gifted the land to California.

The Trail:
Hit the Old Growth Redwood loop trail, and within minutes you’ll be scrambling over a makeshift bridge of downed trees and slippery rocks to cross rippling Aptos Creek (a seasonal bridge is added from May through October). It sets an adventurous tone for your journey into a wondrous forest of towering redwoods and sorrel-blanketed ground. Keep an eye out for the sign that points to Twisted Grove. What sounds like a metal band is actually a mesmerizing cluster of tilted, swaying redwood trees.

Where to Fill Your Post-Hike Pint:
The beachy Seabright neighborhood seems to radiate around Seabright Brewery, a beloved watering hole that’s been satisfying locals’ craft beer cravings for 30 years. In addition to favorites like the Pelican Pale, new brewmaster Cat Wiest promises a constant rotation of creative offerings like a smoked beer and an ale infused with edible glitter. Swing by Thursdays when $3 featured pints are served up alongside bacon tacos. And bring fido! Pups are welcome on Nisene Marks’ trails and Seabright’s lively, heated outdoor patio.

Wilder Ranch State Park

The stresses of modern life feel aeons away at this peaceful, 19th century ranch that abounds with historic architecture, diverse hiking and mountain biking trails, and a show-stopping stroll along the wild Pacific.

The Trail:
The Old Cove Landing Trail meanders along dramatic ocean bluffs passing secluded beach coves and fields of brussel sprouts and berries. Along the route, you’ll enjoy front row views of the seals, dolphins, and whales frolicking just offshore. Don’t miss the sandy spur trail that leads to the lush Fern Grotto, a dazzling hanging garden tucked inside an easily accessible sea cave.

Where to Fill Your Post-Hike Pint:
An ever-changing selection of organic brews and a fun beer garden make Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing the perfect spot to kick up your hiking boots after a day on the trails. Dogs and kids are welcome, and you can order nibbles from nearby Kelly’s Bakery direct through the tap room. Take your favorite brew to go via a Crowler, a unique can-growler hybrid that allows you to can 32 ounces of fresh beer on the spot.

The Pogonip

Discover lots of fun surprises hidden in this forested hilltop expanse that glimpses of the Monterey Bay.

The Trail:
Eight miles of trails traverse green meadows and redwood forests at this patch of land between Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and UCSC. The Lime Kiln Trail passes fern-shrouded stone kilns that look straight out of Middle Earth. Lime kilns proliferated in Santa Cruz during the 1800s when lime was needed to produce the mortar and cement used to construct cities like San Francisco. Behind the kilns lies a grotto-like rock garden with invitations to pen personal notes and place them among the stacked rocks. Check out the nearby The Springbox Trail which leads to a spring-fed pond filled with swirling orange koi fish.

Where to Fill Your Post-Hike Pint:
After your first pint, there’s just 98 more to go before a plaque with your name gets displayed at 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. With over 40 taps and 250 bottles, you’ll have plenty to choose from including a great selection of local brews. Don’t miss their popular weekday happy hour with discounted food and drink!

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Majestic old growth redwoods, remnants of an ancient seabed, and stunning bay views from a hilltop observation deck make this one of the most beloved parks in Santa Cruz County.

The Trail:
In less than a mile, the flat Redwood Grove Loop Trail tours you through ancient groves of soaring, old-growth redwoods. You can even duck inside the Fremont Tree, a hollowed-out behemoth named for an east coast explorer that led an expedition to the area in 1846. Modern day explorers can opt for a more challenging 4-mile roundtrip trek over a sandy, ancient seafloor to a hilltop observation deck with sweeping views of the Monterey Bay. To reach it, follow the Redwood Grove Loop trail to Pipeline Road, then up Ridge Fire Road to Pine Trail, over to Eagle Trail, and back to Pipeline Road and the Redwood Grove trail.

Where to Fill Your Post-Hike Pint:
Housed in an atmospheric 140-year-old building—the oldest in downtown Felton—the Cremer House Bar & Grill is centered around a massive copper draft kettle that’s lined with 25 taps. To get a taste of the goodness that lies within, order a tasting flight which includes the Margaret Cremer, a red steam ale brewed to honor the matriarch of the building’s original incarnation, the Grand Central Hotel. Enjoy it with housemade Bavarian style pretzels served with an addicting porter cheese and beer mustard.

Have great pics from the trails and tasting rooms? We want to see them! Tag them with #santacruznow and #santacruzbeertrail and we might just share them with our followers.

Also, when visiting state parks, be sure to pay the entrance fee even when there is no attendant present. Thanks to a unique partnership between the state park system and local nonprofit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, a portion of your fee stays local to help steward and care for our beautiful parks!

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