Santa Cruz County, California

Looking for the best photography in Santa Cruz County? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping and more around Santa Cruz County. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top Photography Spots in and near Santa Cruz County

  • 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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  • 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

    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

    Natural Bridges State Beach

    4.3
    Natural Bridges State Beach is a wonderful place to photograph located in Santa Cruz off of West Cliff Drive. This is a great place to practice long exposure photography to capture awesome water movement as it passes through the "Natural Bridge" formation. The best time to shoot this spot is at ...
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  • Santa Cruz, California

    Photograph Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges' Monarch Grove

    4.3
    The park's Monarch Grove provides a temporary home for thousands of Monarchs. From late fall into winter they make this their home and if you time it perfectly you can see them in clusters in the trees.  When you reached the Natural Bridges State Park, on the right of the Visitors Center you'll f...
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  • Aptos, California

    Hike to Nisene Marks' Maple Falls

    4.6
    8.5 mi / 900 ft gain
    As you enter the park, you'll need to pay $8 for parking via a self-pay envelope, so it's recommended that you bring exact change. At the park booth, be sure to grab a map. The hike can be a little tricky with no cell service and limited trail signage. Once you've grabbed your map, keep driving p...
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  • Santa Cruz, California

    Photographing the Sunset at Panther Beach

    5.0
    Probably my favorite beach in the Santa Cruz area. Panther Beach lies just south of Davenport along the beautiful Hwy 1. Park at a large dirt pull out on the left hand side if your heading north from Santa Cruz. The trail down to the beach is steep and not that well maintained so watch your step....
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  • Davenport, California

    Beach Picnic at Shark Fin Cove

    4.3
    Shark Fin Cove is a large rock formation in an inlet off Highway 1 in Northern California. It is located 1 mile south of Davenport and 10 miles north of Santa Cruz. There is a sizable parking lot located on the side of Highway 1 to park in. Walk down the path left of the parking lot and cross the...
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  • Morgan Hill, California

    Uvas Canyon Waterfall Loop

    4.0
    1.48 mi / 463 ft gain
    Uvas Canyon offers up to 6-miles of hiking trails, which includes a 1.5 mile loop, which runs along Swanson Creek and passes many of the park's waterfalls. To take short loop, head North out of the parking lot to the Swanson Creek Trail. Once you find Swanson Creek Trail, you'll be on the Waterfa...
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  • Davenport, California

    Hike around Greyhound Beach and Climb Greyhound Rock

    0.7 mi / 0 ft gain
    The trailhead is at the Greyhound Rock State Marine Conservation Area which is directly off Highway 1. There is a large paved parking lot with a good amount of trees so finding a shady parking spot isn't that difficult (if that's important to you). The parking lot is located on the beach cliffs ...
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  • Boulder Creek, California

    Hike to Sempervirens Falls

    4.0
    2.1 mi / 100 ft gain
    The hike to Sempervirens Falls is an easy 2.1 mile out-and-back hike on the Sequoia Trail. You'll travel through the redwood forest and some of the campgrounds located in Big Basin State Park. The hike is pleasant but on occasion, you'll be too close to the road to feel like you're deep in the wi...
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  • Boulder Creek, California

    Camp at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

    4.0
    0.5 mi
    Big Basin is currently closed including the campgrounds. Please visit the Parks.ca.gov site for updated details.  An hour away from the thrumming city of San Jose, ancient immense trees live in a forest full of vibrant ferns and rushing waterfalls. Big Basin Redwoods State Park encompasses 10,00...
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  • Boulder Creek, California

    Hike the Old Growth Redwoods Trail

    4.5
    0.5 mi
    Quick half-mile stroll through the old growth Redwoods that will show you the nature of the ever-living redwood tree.Redwoods are capable of withstanding storms, floods, fire, droughts, and even termites. These legendary trees can live for over 2,000 years and possess incredible strength, vigor, ...
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  • Pescadero, California

    Pick Berries at Swanton's Berry Farm

    Take a spectacularly scenic drive or bike ride out to this quaint coastal berry farm. Look out onto the shimmering ocean while you pick the ripest and sweetest berries yourself. Head inside their shop to enjoy pre-made jams, pies, chocolate covered strawberries, and so much more. While you're ins...
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