Spotlight on Parks: Land Trust of Santa Cruz County 

From redwood forests to coastal trails, Santa Cruz County has a multitude of beautiful hiking trails to choose from. Unsure of where to head out on your next adventure? Check out these trails, operated by The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, a non-profit organization that seeks to protect and preserve the lands that make this coastal California area special, as well as creating connections between humans and nature that will inspire conservation for years to come. Discover the trails and parks that The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County have worked to protect, maintain, and share with the public! 

San Vicente Redwoods 
Address: 12001 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz 
Dog-Friendly (Hu-Mis/Great Horned Owl Trail) 
Restrooms Available 

Situated on the redwood-lined ridge of Empire Grade, you will discover a prime example of nature’s resiliency and regeneration: the San Vicente Redwoods. After the CZU Complex Fire swept through this area in 2020, the forest was left severely burned. Entering the trails today, the evidence is there in the burn scar, however, there is an abundance of new growth and life to be found here. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County closely collaborated with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, learning from the deep ancestral knowledge of the Indigenous people of these lands as they worked together to tend the recovering land and develop trails for public access. The Land Trust asks that all visitors pre-register for a trail pass before their visit and stay on the trail during their hike as the forest works to restore itself. With over 7 miles of trails to explore, keep your eyes peeled for the scenic views overlooking the Pacific Ocean as you traverse a variety of habitats, like old-growth redwood groves, chaparral, and over several creeks

Byrne-Milliron Forest  
Address: 809 Browns Valley Road, Corralitos 
Restrooms Available  

Journey to the southern part of the county, where the majestic Byrne-Milliron Forest is tucked away in the rural town of Corralitos. One of Santa Cruz County’s best-kept secrets, this secluded spot encompasses several hiking trails under towering Coastal Redwoods. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the bird’s eye view of Pajaro Valley and the Monterey Bay from the observation deck! The Land Trust asks that all visitors to the Forest register before hiking and keep dogs on leashes. Be prepared to pack your trash and leave no trace, which helps us to keep our natural spaces beautiful for all to enjoy! 

Glenwood Open Space Preserve 
Parking Address: 350 Glenwood Drive, Scotts Valley 
Dog-Friendly (Glenwood West) 
Restrooms Available (Siltanen Park, near Glenwood East entrance) 

The Glenwood Open Space Preserve is a 170-acre parcel of natural land situated in Scotts Valley, just off Highway 17. Comprised of two parts – East and West – Glenwood Preserve encompasses diverse habitats and has over 7 miles of trails to share. Glenwood West is the place to go hiking, mountain biking, and bring along your pooch, all while enjoying 3 beautiful miles of trails. On the other side of the road, Glenwood East is often home to grazing cattle which help local, endangered species like the Ohlone Tiger Beetle to thrive in their habitat of short grasses, so these trails are available for hikers and equestrians. The flora and fauna are plentiful around the preserve, so keep your eyes peeled for deer, bobcats, coyotes, hawks, and mountain lions, amongst others – and in the springtime, wildflowers like California Poppies, Lupines, Vetch, and Owl’s Clover blanket the rolling hillsides in a spectacular display of color! With blooming lotuses to bullfrogs in the water, and hawks flying overhead, the pond in Glenwood East is a fantastic spot to take in the views and spot some wildlife! Choose a side of Glenwood to explore, and enjoy the ample natural space and beautiful scenery of this natural landscape!  

Antonelli Pond  
Address: 2360 Delaware Avenue, Santa Cruz 
Restrooms Available 

Nestled in the west side of Santa Cruz County, across the street from Natural Bridges State Park, lies Antonelli Pond. This 6-acre, century-old human-made pond is home to a variety of wildlife! Bring your binoculars to this serene spot for some bird watching, or bring your fishing pole – and your permit – to go fishing along the pond’s edges. Two hiking trails run along the perimeter of the water, creating a beautiful place to take a walk, and you can picnic at one of the several tables available with scenic views of the pond. The Land Trust has created a place to find peace in the middle of bustling Westside Santa Cruz.  

Laguna Creek Trail 
Address: 975 Martin Road, Bonny Doon 

The Laguna Creek Trail is situated within the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve in the northern part of Santa Cruz County. Here, explore redwood canyons as you meander along trails. Discover the Sandhills habitat – found only in areas where ancient marine sand deposits are situated, this terrain is a rarity unique to Santa Cruz County. Spot flora and fauna that are specially adapted to this area, and enjoy all that this moderate, 1-mile long trail has to offer!  

Davenport Bluffs 
Address: 3500 CA-1, Davenport 

Stopping into the quaint, cliffside town of Davenport in the northernmost parts of Santa Cruz County, you won’t want to miss the Davenport Bluffs, which provide sweeping, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Located just across Highway 1 from Davenport’s main street, this rugged coastline is a beautiful spot to spread out a coastal picnic or take a scenic hike. Visit sometime from January through April for whale watching: catch a glimpse of a Humpback or Gray Whale as they make their migration along the California Coast. The Bluffs’ brilliant views make it the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the Pacific, a fantastic end to any day while visiting Santa Cruz County. 

If you choose to visit one of these beautiful, natural spaces, please be prepared to leave no trace, and consider making a donation to The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. This helps the Land Trust in their hard work, preserving these natural spaces and creating human-nature connections for years to come!