The newly opened trails at Glenwood Open Space Preserve offer the latest reason to get outside in Santa Cruz County. Situated in Scotts Valley, the preserve recently unveiled five miles of trails, marking the culmination of an 18-year effort. Managed by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, the 166-acre property brims with diverse habitats such as redwood groves, lush wetlands, and evergreen forests. Plus, there are more trails on the way! Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this scenic new preserve.
WHO CREATED THE PRESERVE?
Glenwood Open Space Preserve is the result of grass-roots conservation efforts by Scotts Valley residents concerned about encroaching development. The land is currently owned by the City of Scotts Valley and managed by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. To develop a series of multi-use trails throughout the property, the Land Trust hired the trail pros at the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz who in turn assembled an army of volunteers to help design over ten miles of multi-use trails. Initial trail construction began in 2017, and the first set of trail segments were opened to the public in 2019.
ABOUT THE SCENIC PROPERTY
The preserve packs an abundance of flora and fauna into its compact footprint. Spread throughout its 166 acres, the following seven biotic communities are what make Glenwood Preserve an especially stunning parcel of land: riparian woodland, grassland prairie, freshwater march, mixed evergreen forest, chaparral, oak savannah, and redwood forest. Numerous hillside seeps provide the preserve’s water elements including a large creek that runs through the eastside. There’s also a fishing pond, and plans to build an accompanying dock so visitors can cast a line.
The preserve’s landscape is home to the usual California denizens—mountain lions, bobcats, hawks, deer, racoons, coyotes—and the Land Trust is in the process of installing bird boxes to draw more songbirds. Notably, Glenwood is also home to three rare species that are classified as endangered. These include the colorful, predatory Ohlone tiger beetle and two flowers: the Scotts Valley polygonum and the Scotts Valley spineflower. Visit during spring, and you’ll witness the landscape set ablaze with brilliant wildflowers such as lupine, vetch, and owl’s clover.
EXPLORE THE TRAILS
Given the number of habitats, hiking Glenwood offers a striking diversity of landscapes even on short treks. The preserve is divided into west and east sections, each with their own set of trails. Currently the only segments open, Westside trails are organized into five loops that span a collective four miles, and can accommodate hikers, bikers, and dogs on leash. The trails run narrow, but were designed with gentle grades and long sight lines to spot oncoming bikes and pedestrians. Check the online map to chart your course. For an initial journey, Carie Thompson, the access Manager at the Land Trust recommends following the blue trail to the green trail to the magenta loop to enjoy sweeping, southeast views of the entire valley. Thompson notes that the orange loop also offers exceptional look-outs along its route.
Eastside trails are scheduled to be completed by fall 2019. Due to the presence of cattle brought in to graze—making land more conducive to the preserve’s endangered species—dogs and bikes will not be allowed on eastside trails. The Land Trust says interpretive signs are on the way, and come spring 2020, the agency will offer interpretive walks throughout the preserve (check their website for announcements).
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Glenwood Open Space Preserve is located roughly one mile from Highway 17 making it convenient to reach its nature-filled trails. Currently, the best way to access the preserve is via K Street near Scotts Valley High School. Motorists should use the lot at Shugart Park (350 Glenwood Drive), and follow signage toward the trailheads. Additional entrances will be made available when eastside trails are completed. Note that while picnic tables are in the works, there are no additional facilities at the preserve including drinking water or restrooms, so plan accordingly.