Wildflower Guide to Santa Cruz County

In spring and early summer, coastal California sees a huge bloom of wildflowers every year. Visitors looking to explore the blossoming flowers and fields of poppies, lupines, and mustard grass in Santa Cruz County have so many excellent options to choose from! Whether you’re looking for a hike, a short stroll, or an urban area to view from a paved trail or even your car, there is an option for everyone looking to experience the bounty of wildflowers in the area. This guide provides a list of some of the best places to view wildflowers in Santa Cruz County that are accessible to everyone!

Glenwood Open Space Preserve

This small park in Scotts Valley packs a big punch with astonishingly beautiful wildflowers yearly. There are two sections to the park, an east, and a west; each side offers a diverse landscape with different flowers. The west side is especially known for purple lupines that line the trails and cascade down the hills throughout the park. The east side has a gorgeous pond full of blooming water lilies, bullfrogs, and shores lined with assorted wildflowers that make this the perfect picnic spot in springtime! The winding trails offer visitors many different hiking options while experiencing a plentiful variety of wildflowers.

West Cliff

West Cliff Drive is the most iconic stretch of the Santa Cruz coastline that every visitor has to experience. During the springtime, the sidewalks and cliffs are full of orange poppies and mustard grass. In addition to the bounty of native wildflowers, the non-native ice plant that lines the entire drive blooms in an extraordinary display of colors from bright purple to yellow every year. Visit the lighthouse and its one-room Surf Museum, or view the Santa Cruz Wharf and the Beach Boardwalk as you wander this paved trail surrounded by blooms.

Davenport Beaches

The towering cliffs of Santa Cruz’s rugged north coast beaches explode with color from fields of blooming wildflowers every spring. The stark white elysium and bright yellow mustard grass fills the cliffsides and surrounding agricultural fields. Whether you are looking to hike the coastal trails lined with wildflowers like at 4 Mile Beach or just want to experience the blooms from off the road near Shark Fin Cove, every stop along the coast from Santa Cruz to just north of Davenport is brimming with blossoms!

East Cliff Drive

On the east side of Santa Cruz, this coastal drive stretches from Pleasure Point to one of Santa Cruz’s most famous surfing location, the Hook. East Cliff Drive has a paved walking path that runs along the ocean that is covered in wildflowers including poppies, alyssum, and mustard grass. This short walk is perfect for walkers of all levels and families with strollers looking to take in all the beauty without having to wander too far. The cliffside views coupled with the abundance of colorful wildflowers make East Cliff both an iconic spot for surfing and the perfect wildflower viewing location!

UCSC Arboretum

The UCSC Arboretum has a gorgeously curated collection of plant species worldwide that allows visitors to experience global wildflowers without ever having to leave Santa Cruz! The California native collection of wildflowers in the Arboretum offers an expansive selection of the best wildflowers in the county and provides materials for those looking to learn more about Santa Cruz County in the springtime! Walking through the extensive gardens provides visitors with endless options of different flowers to view from worldwide locations. The Arboretum is easily accessible to everyone and an excellent place for families to explore the wonders of global wildflowers for a small admission fee.

Moore Creek Trail

This 246-acre City of Santa Cruz greenbelt land offers hiking trails through open meadows with scenic views of the Monterey Bay. Due to the sensitive resources within the Preserve, public use is limited to hiking only – no bikes or dogs allowed. Cattle are grazed on the Preserve to benefit native plant and animal species and to reduce fire hazard. There are approximately 2½ miles round trip in this westside springtime wildflower haven. Moore Creek Preserve has two walk-in entrances: one entrance is located on the north side of Highway 1, across from Shaffer Road. The other entrance is located at the end of Meder Street. Parking is limited, please consult the Moore Creek Trail Map for entrance, parking info, and more.