Travel Blog

Hike the Glenwood Open Space Preserve in Scotts Valley

Photo by Ben Ingram

The trails at Glenwood Open Space Preserve offer the latest reason to get outside in Santa Cruz County. Situated in Scotts Valley, the West and East sides of the Glenwood Preserve unveil over seven miles of trails, marking the culmination of an 18+ year effort. Managed by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, the 170-acre property brims with diverse habitats such as redwood groves, lush wetlands, and evergreen forests. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this scenic 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 seven 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. As of summer 2020, additional trails opened in the East Glenwood Open Preserve.

Glenwood Open Space Preserve, located in Scotts Valley. The West Glenwood Trails offer hiking, mountain biking, and on-leash dog walking. No dogs or bikes are allowed on the Eastside trails, but there are some equestrian areas. Here are some wildflowers (California Poppies) on the trails.
Photo by Ben Ingram

ABOUT THE SCENIC PROPERTY

The preserve packs an abundance of flora and fauna into its compact footprint. Spread throughout its 170 acres, the following seven biotic communities are what make Glenwood Preserve an especially stunning parcel of land: riparian woodland, grassland prairie, freshwater marsh, 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.

Glenwood Open Space Preserve, located in Scotts Valley. The West Glenwood Trails offer hiking, mountain biking, and on-leash dog walking. No dogs or bikes are allowed on the Eastside trails, but there are some equestrian areas.
Photo by Paul Zaretsky on the Westside Trails

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.

The Westside trails are organized into five loops that span a collective three 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.

The Pond at Glenwood Open Space Preserve in Scotts Valley California. This photo was taken in December of 2021 and is on the Red Loop Trail at Glenwood.
Photo by Paul Schraub

The Eastside trails offer an additional four-plus miles of rolling hills, sweeping views, a variety of treed areas, wildflower fields, plus a picturesque fishing pond. Due to the presence of cattle brought in to graze—making land more conducive to the preserve’s endangered species—dogs and bikes are not allowed on Eastside trails. As shared on the Land Trust website, horses are allowed anywhere on or off-trail at East Glenwood in the equestrian area (see brochure for details and the trail map for designated equestrian areas). Please note that the East Glenwood Preserve has challenging terrain and narrow trails. The trails are best experienced by intermediate or expert riders. The equestrian entrance is located on Canham Road. Please read the Equestrian Brochure and Equestrian Trail Map before heading out on the trails. The gate code is HORS (4677).

Glenwood Open Space Preserve, located in Scotts Valley. The West Glenwood Trails offer hiking, mountain biking, and on-leash dog walking. No dogs or bikes are allowed on the Eastside trails, but there are some equestrian areas.
Photo by Ben Ingram

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. Note that the preserves’ parking lot at 350 Glenwood Drive is roughly 100 yards from either the West (Scotts Valley High School side of Glenwood) or East trails entrances. There are no additional facilities at the preserve including drinking water or restrooms, so plan accordingly.

And for a real taste of what’s in store at this gorgeous area in Scotts Valley, take a Moment in Nature from Glenwood Open Space Preserve.

Last Updated January 2022

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