People love Wilder Ranch State Park. Hikers and mountain bikers come from all over to explore its 34 miles of trail winding through oak-crowned meadows and redwood ravines and to gape at its stupendous views of Monterey Bay. But many visitors also come to savor the gentler charms of the old farm complex, a tidy
By Molly Ressler
When you think of backpacking in California, the Santa Cruz Mountains isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind. There’s a healing serenity, however, found beneath the towering coastal redwoods that protectively enfold our sunny stretch of well-loved coastline. A quick day trip from the metropolitan hustle of the Bay Area, the Santa Cruz Mountains are an accessible, much-needed antidote to the frenzy of modern life.
Henry Cowell is one of my favorite parks in Santa Cruz County. You get the quintessential redwood experience but you also get sunny sandhill ridges, grasslands (often roamed by deer), the peaceful San Lorenzo River, and the not-so distant sounds of steam train whistles echoing through the forest. It’s quite a magical place and anyone who’s been there knows just what I’m talking about.
With a show-stopping landscape and temperate climate, Santa Cruz is a bike riding nirvana. The county is laced with trails that lead alongside bay waters, through idyllic farmland, and into atmospheric redwood groves. Plus, a wealth of shops rent bikes and gear for every adventure type and skill level. From casual family rides to thrilling
The Santa Cruz County you enjoy today didn’t spring up overnight. Behind its surfboard-filled shores lies a rich history of farming, timber, and, yep, surfing. Explore the many towns of Santa Cruz County—most founded in the mid-1800s— and you’ll discover numerous sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a California