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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

    • Loma Mar, California

      Camp Under the Redwoods at Memorial Park

      With old growth redwoods and a creek swimming area, Memorial Park is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. Memorial Park is only a few miles east of the town of Pescadero. To get here, you can either approach from Highway 1 and drive up Pescadero Creek Road or take Highway ...
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    • La Honda, California

      Sam McDonald Park Loop

      5.0
      12.19 mi / 2192 ft gain
      The Pescadero Creek Park Complex is a great place to escape for a day or overnight hike in the heart of the Bay Area. You will need to get a permit to stay overnight - these can be attained on a first-come, first-serve basis from the ranger station. Most of the campsites here are also available f...
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    • Pescadero, California

      Explore the Pidgeon Point Lighthouse

      5.0
      Pidgeon Point Lighthouse is conveniently located just 50 miles south of San Francisco. Constructed in 1872 and standing at 115 feet, it is among the tallest lighthouse in America.Part of the state park system, it is surprisingly secluded. Numerous parking space were available in the lot with hand...
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    • Pescadero, California

      Exploring Big Sur to Pigeon Point

      We started off in Big Sur and took as many pull-off viewpoints as possible between Big Sur and the final destination, Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The weather was foggy in some spots but would open up to reveal the vast Pacific Ocean and sun in others. The weather was mild for us but we're familiar w...
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    • Santa Clara County, California

      Black Mountain via Rhus Ridge Trail

      9.75 mi / 2992 ft gain
      Just outside of Los Altos is a very long ridge of mountains, one of which is Black Mountain.  This is a very dry hike, with no tree canopy, so it can get very hot! Be aware that this can make the hike feel a lot more difficult with the sun beating down on you. Follow Rhus Ridge Trail to Black Mo...
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    • Marina, California

      Surf, Run, or Catch a Sunset at Marina State Beach

      From the moment you turn into the parking lot, you know Marina State Beach is special. Grab a parking spot in the large lot and then run down the dunes and onto the shoreline! The beach feels spacious on this section of the shore and gives plenty of room to run around or to put down a blanket to ...
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    • Los Altos, California

      Park Day at Foothills Park

      1.7
      Disclaimer: Foothills Park requires proof of residence in Palo Alto or being accompanied by a resident of the city. Learn more here.Foothills Park is 2.7 miles west of 280 after exiting Page Mill. After exiting you take a short scenic drive up the hill and come to the park entrance on your right...
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    • Pescadero, California

      Catch a Sunset at Bean Hollow State Beach

      5.0
      There are a bunch of places to photograph this beach if you head north on the trail that runs along the beach.There is parking at the beach but it can fill up quickly!The only warning you need is about the tide. Make sure you are watching it the entire time because it can creep up on you and will...
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    • Palo Alto, California

      Hike the Arastradero Preserve Loop

      3.0
      4.5 mi / 600 ft gain
      Getting There: From Hwy 280, take the Page Mill Road exit and head West on Page Mill Road, away from Downtown Palo Alto (if you're taking 101, exit on Oregon Expressway). Then turn right on Arastradero Road. There will be a small sign indicating the dirt parking lot on the eastern side of the str...
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    • Marina, California

      Explore Fort Ord Dunes State Park

      5.0
      One of the best parts of Monterey is the beaches – but their popularity is also their weakness, so if you want seclusion head to the lesser-known Fort Ord Dunes for solitude and beautiful views of Monterey Bay and the Pacific Coast. Historically, this location was chosen as the location for Fort ...
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    • Portola Valley, California

      Hike the Windy Hill Loop

      4.3
      7.2 mi / 1400 ft gain
      This 7.2-mile loop starts by heading out of the parking lot and onto the Spring Ridge Trail. Head Southeast On Spring Ridge Trail until you connect with Hamms Gulch Trail. When you jump on Hamms Gulch, head southwest for ~3.4 miles as you circle the far end of the OSP. At this point, you will con...
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    • Portola Valley, California

      Sunrise Hike at Windy Hill

      5.0
      There are a few options to this hike. Usually I would recommend parking in the lot on Portola Road, but because the preserve doesn't open until 30 minutes before sunrise, it's best to park up on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35). There are two places to park up on Skyline, but the main parking lot i...
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    • Pacific Grove, California

      Visit the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary

      1 mi
      Thousands of monarchs can be found here October through February. It's a small park with a path through the center. Park near the Monarch Grove hotel at the sign that says "Caution: Butterflies present", and cross the street to walk down the short path (pink houses will be on your right) and to t...
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    • Pacific Grove, California

      Explore Lovers Point

      5.0
      LOVERS POINT PARK AND BEACH:According to local legend, this park was originally called "Lovers of Jesus Point," back in the era when Pacific Grove was a Methodist retreat camp. Since the late 1800s, the beach at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove has been a popular spot for boating and swimming, and o...
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    • Pacific Grove, California

      Paddle Lover's Point

      Lover's Point is great place to SUP or kayak. There are tons of jellyfish in the water (so be careful). This beach is also popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are rocks surround a small sandy beach and a place to rent kayaks and sups on the beach. There is a small parking lot as well a...
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    • Pacific Grove, California

      Relax at Lover's Point Beach

      4.8
      Getting there: Drive to the bottom of Ocean View Boulevard in Pacific Grove, California. You will reach a small parking lot. Unfortunately, the parking here is limited. On the bright side, this means the crowds never get too big! The ocean has open swells for surfers, diverse marine-life for snor...
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