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  • Santa Cruz County
  • 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

    • Moss Landing, California

      Kayak in Elkhorn Slough

      4.7
      Elkhorn Slough is located in Moss Landing, which is in the dead center of Monterey Bay, California. Elkhorn Slough is one of California's largest wetlands and part of a National Estuarine Reserve located in central Monterey Bay, California, just a short trip from the Monterey Peninsula and the Sa...
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    • Moss Landing, California

      Kayak with Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

      5.0
      Disclaimer: Please keep a respectful distance from the whales and other sea wildlife for their protection and your own. Note, changing the animal's natural behavior is a violation of federal law.Every year, humpbacks whale migrate north from their winter and breeding grounds down in southern Mex...
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    • Moss Landing, California

      Whale Watching off Moss Landing

      The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to some of the most diverse and rich waters in our oceans, and you have the chance to see it up close and personal! The big prize is getting to see a whale, but these waters are teeming with other wildlife from dolphins to otters to sea lions.  F...
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    • La Honda, California

      Hike Peters Creek and Long Ridge

      4.0
      5.7 mi
      From the parking lot, take the connector trail towards the Peters Creek Trail for 0.4 miles. As you descend into a small valley, notice the sound of running water that appears. When you reach the first trail intersection, turn left on the Peters Creek trail. This will give you your first encounte...
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    • Pescadero, United States

      Relax at Costanoa Lodge

      3.0
      Looking for a quick escape from the city, but sleeping on the ground isn’t really your thing? Look no further than Costanoa Lodge in Pescadero, an upscale "glamping" experience just an hour south of San Francisco with tons of hiking options. This is a really fun option for anyone who enjoys being...
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    • Pescadero, California

      Camp at Butano State Park

      Butano State Park definitely flies under the radar. But for those who love quick escapes, small crowds, fun hikes, and beautiful redwoods, it's a favorite. The park features miles of hiking trails, 21 drive-in campsites and 18 walk-in campsites. Restrooms with running water are provided. Drinking...
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    • Pescadero, California

      Año Nuevo and Goat Trail Loop

      4.0
      3.76 mi / 761 ft gain
      This steep and winding trail takes you to the top of a ridge where you can see the Pacific coastline and the redwoods piercing through the forest canopy. To do this trail connect the Ano Nuevo Trail, Olmo Fire Road, Goat Trail and the Six Bridges Trail. If you don't have all day to do the Canyon ...
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    • Pescadero, California

      Hike the Canyon Rim Route in Butano State Park

      5.0
      11.7 mi
      Located deep within the Santa Cruz Mountains, Butano State Park boasts a large redwood canyon with many miles of hiking trails as well as campsites. This state park is one of the quietest and least visited parks on the peninsula making a perfect place to escape the hustle of the Bay Area Butano S...
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    • Pescadero, California

      Hike the Little Butano Creek Trail

      1.5 mi
      This short hike follows Little Butano Creek through a lush redwood forest. The trail crosses the creek multiple times as you walk over redwood pine needles and through pockets of ferns. Dogs can join on this trail, but must be on leash.
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    • Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, California

      Hike Deer Hollow Farm Trail

      4.0
      2.7 mi / 259 ft gain
      Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve has many beginner to intermediate hiking trails.  Deer Hollow Farm Trail Loop is a hiking trail for beginners, families, or anyone wanting to go on a short hike with nice views of the bay. The trail passes by a farm and deer can often be seen wandering aroun...
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    • La Honda, California

      Mountain Bike Skyline Ridge Preserve

      4.0
      3.5 mi / 313 ft gain
      There are a bunch of beginner to intermediate mountain biking trails at Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve (click here for a trail map).  There are some beginner mountain biking classes that come here to learn. You can find specific trails that match your ability at MTB Project.   There is a Chris...
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    • Redwood City, California

      Hike Russian Ridge

      4.5
      4 mi
      Russian Ridge offers a great place to jump on the trail and in the right season, see some of the best wildflowers blooming. On top of that, you get access to amazing views from the ridge. Once you hit your parking space, add a little extra warm up before jumping on the trail to make this 3.7-mil...
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    • La Honda, California

      Brook Trail Loop

      7.63 mi / 1457 ft gain
      The Brook Trail Loop is a beautiful hike, starting off in Sam McDonald County Park and later entering into Pescadero Creek County Park. This adventure can be done in any season, with the trails almost entirely shaded for even the hottest summer days. Starting off from the Heritage Grove trailhea...
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    • Los Altos, California

      Hike to Black Mountain and Stevens Creek Canyon

      4.0
      6 mi / 950 ft gain
      This hike can be done during any season, but for the creek to be running and for more comfortable temperatures, it is best to go on a cool winter or spring day. Starting at the preserve parking lot, take the Stevens Creek nature trail, allowing you to witness spectacular views of a large, foreste...
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    • Los Altos, California

      Hike the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve Loop

      4.5
      2.9 mi / 600 ft gain
      This hike is best done in the late fall, winter, and spring so that the creek is running and the hills are green. Starting at the preserve parking lot, the first half of the hike is predominantly downhill. At the main trailhead, start in the direction of the Stevens Creek Nature Trail, as told by...
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    • Loma Mar, California

      Bike Pescadero Creek County Park

      5.0
      12.5 mi / 1350 ft gain
      Pescadero Creek County Park and the connected Sam McDonald and Memorial Park are located deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains holding a vast network of secluded trails. From biking to backpacking, this area is a perfect place for a day or weekend adventure. This area also has the added bonus having r...
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