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  • Santa Cruz County, California

    For top outdoor adventures in Santa Cruz County, California, the Skyline to the Sea Trail is a must-visit. This scenic 29.5-mile trail takes you from the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, offering breathtaking views of redwood forests, waterfalls, and creeks along the way. The trail is moderately difficult, making it suitable for most hikers. For a shorter hike, try the 4.7-mile Wilder Ranch State Park Loop, which features stunning ocean views and historic farm buildings. For a unique outdoor attraction, visit the Natural Bridges State Beach, home to a natural rock arch in the sea. So, if you're looking for the best trails and outdoor activities, Santa Cruz County has plenty to offer.

    Top Spots in and near Santa Cruz County

    • Santa Cruz County, California

      Camp at Henry Cowell Redwoods Campground

      4.8
      / 665 ft gain
      Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a great weekend option for Bay Area residents. With approximately 30 miles of hiking trails, the incredible Garden of Eden swimming hole, and proximity to Santa Cruz - this campground is not to be missed! On sunny days, view...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      Hike the Rincon Fire Trail

      5.0
      1 mi / 300 ft gain
      The Rincon Fire Trail Starts at a small dirt parking lot next to CA-9 and traverses down the mountain to the San Lorenzo River Connecting with the Pipeline Trail. The trail can be a simple one of a mile out and back or up to 5 miles depending on your preference. The elevation will change by about...
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    • Felton, California

      Observation Deck Loop in Henry Cowell Redwoods SP

      4.3
      5.3 mi / 869 ft gain
      The trail starts at the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Visitors Center. Grab a map in the center, as your hike has you turning onto a few different trails to get to the observation deck.  Starting at the Redwood Grove Loop Trail, follow the trail until it connects with the Pipeline Road Trail ...
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    • Felton, California

      Redwood Grove Loop

      4.0
      0.93 mi / 144 ft gain
      Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located just a few miles north of the city of Santa Cruz, along Highway 9. The park is home to an array of hiking and biking trails, but the crown jewel of the park is the Redwood Grove Loop Trail, which is only a 1/4 mile in from the park's entrance. Many peo...
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    • Felton, California

      Tree Climb Mount Hermon

      5.0
      Climbing an aerial obstacle course through the redwoods of Mount Hermon is a great way to experience the thrill of climbing and being in the trees.  See what it's like to scurry through the trees like a squirrel.  This unique vantage point offers amazing views of the redwoods. There are many aeri...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      Photograph the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

      5.0
      No matter the time you'll decide to visit the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, you'll have thousands of interesting plants and birds to see and watch. The Arboretum is located on the west side of UCSC campus, between the main campus entrance and the west entrance. Parking is 5$ for adults and 2$ for chil...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      Bonfire at Seabright State Beach

      5.0
      This is a wide, beautiful beach that's an amazing spot to spend the day and enjoy a bonfire at night. Seabright is probably the most popular spot in Santa Cruz for a bonfire, due to its convenient proximity to the Beach Boardwalk. But luckily, this beach is tucked in between the San Lorenzo River...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      A Beach Bonfire in Santa Cruz at Twin Lakes SB

      This one-mile stretch of beach is the perfect option for those looking for a peaceful Santa Cruz experience, but without the crowds. The beach features soft sand, playful surf, an awesome view of Walton Lighthouse, and a handful of fire pits to choose from. It's a great spot to spend the entire d...
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    • Felton, California

      Hike Fall Creek at Henry Cowell SP

      5.0
      9.7 mi / 2191 ft gain
      This quiet 10 mile hike features a winding creek and tall redwoods throughout the trail.  The parking at the Fall Creek Trailhead is limited, so it is best to get there before 10am.  There are redwoods very close to the trail and a good portion is alongside the creek.  Most of the trail is dirt, ...
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    • Felton, California

      Limestone Kilns and Big Ben Redwood Loop

      5.0
      8.37 mi / 1598 ft gain
      Henry Cowell Redwood State Park is a super easy destination to get to from Santa Cruz, but the seclusion of the Fall Creek Unit makes this a big bang for buck hike. This hike will take you to Big Ben, a medium sized old growth Redwood, and the abandoned Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Company Kilns ...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      Surf Cowell's Cove

      4.8
      Cowell's Cove is located just south of Santa Cruz’s iconic Steamer Lane. The break is a slow pealing right, and is a very user-friendly wave for beginners. It can get crowded on weekends, especially when it's sunny, but no need to worry, there are a lot people out on foam boards and most are begi...
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    • Soquel, California

      Land of Medicine Buddha Loop

      4.5
      5.74 mi / 915 ft gain
      Near the retreat, there is a short trail called "Eight Verses Pilgrimage Trail" providing people with the opportunity to meditate on thought transformation in a peaceful and picturesque outdoor setting. From there, a beautiful 6 mile loop will take you up to the top of the ridge and then back aro...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      Beach Day at Lighthouse Field State Beach

      4.0
      This beach is less crowded compared to other beaches in Santa Cruz.  I got there early on a Saturday and found easy street parking.  There was plenty of space to spread out on the soft sand.  Later in the day I saw dolphins several times!  This is close to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.  It’s als...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      Surf the Hook

      4.0
      The hook is a surf spot found on the east side of Santa Cruz, located along East Cliff drive.  If you keep driving past Pleasure Point, you'll get to it.  It's a right hand point break that is usually smaller in size than Pleasure Point.  It's a very crowded spot due to the easy access parking lo...
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    • Santa Cruz, California

      Surf Pleasure Point

      4.0
      Pleasure Point is located on the east side of Santa Cruz, California. It is a right hand point break that breaks year round. It is a popular surf spot for many people that live in the San Francisco Bay Area.  There are 3 different peaks that break at Pleasure Point. Sewers, which is the furthest ...
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    • Capitola, California

      New Brighton Beach Trail

      0.85 mi / 112 ft gain
      New Brighton Beach Trail is an out-and-back trail that takes you past scenic surroundings located near Aptos, California.
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    Camping and Lodging in Santa Cruz County

    Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA Holiday
    La Selva Beach, California

    Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA Holiday

    Moss Landing KOA Express
    Moss Landing, California

    Moss Landing KOA Express

    Santa Cruz North / Costanoa KOA
    Pescadero, California

    Santa Cruz North / Costanoa KOA

    Salinas / Monterey KOA
    Prunedale, California

    Salinas / Monterey KOA

    Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds
    Pacific Grove, California

    Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds

    From $176 / night

    Guides, Insights and Stories from Santa Cruz County

    10 Great Places To See Wildlife Near Santa Cruz

    10 Great Places To See Wildlife Near Santa Cruz

    Crystal Birns

    4 Ways to Stay in Santa Cruz, California

    4 Ways to Stay in Santa Cruz, California

    Sara Sheehy

    3 Ways to Fuel Your Days in Santa Cruz, California

    3 Ways to Fuel Your Days in Santa Cruz, California

    Sara Sheehy

    The Perfect Weekend Adventure at Big Basin State Park

    The Perfect Weekend Adventure at Big Basin State Park

    Benjamin Canevari