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Nature Rider, Not MTBer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all. Hoping to pick your collective brains.

My sweetie and I will be in Santa Cruz tomorrow and would like to go for a hike. Everything I know of the area relates to mountain biking and my brain is not functional enough to let me make the translation to what various spots would be like if hiking, so I'm drawing a blank.

Anyone know of a nice 'n' pretty ~3-5 mile hike in or near Santa Cruz? Could be a tad longer or shorter I guess, if it's a nice hike.

Thanks!
 

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Another vote for Nisene Marks. I have yet to mtb there, but I have hiked there with my wife several times.

Another option is to just hike the beach?

Big Basin is also another great place to hike, but it's like 30min from Santa Cruz...

Do you guys hike much? Are you sure of your desired distance? For day hikes were I plan a somewhat brisk pace, I plan to spend 1 hour hiking 2 miles on moderate terrain. If there is a lot of elevation change, or if either of you are in poor shape or like to take lots of pictures, etc. give yourself more time.
 

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Forest or Ocean?
Of course you can hike Wilder Ranch for open ocean type stuff. If you want forest I suggest Henry Cowell or Fall Creek in Felton. I actually think the hikes from Graham Hill road in Cowell are better than parking at the main entrance on Highway 9 unless you want to see the large redwoods in the “Redwood Loop”. Last, the UCSC arboretum has some hikes in and around it with some decent views.
 

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Nature Rider, Not MTBer
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks.

I'm familiar with the Nisene Marks fireroad 'cause I've taken it to Demo and done loops there. I wasn't too keen on an out and back fireroad hike, but maybe the singletrack is worth exploring a little.

Wilder is definitely a thought. I'll take a look at that map and maybe a loop will jump out at me. I didn't think of Henry Cowell, UCSC arboretum or Fall Creek either. Hmmm...

-M

Edit: OOooo, didn't see that Cowell map when I first replied. Thanks for the details, RJG. Definitely looks like a possibility.
 

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Nature Rider, Not MTBer
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
stingray4540 said:
Another vote for Nisene Marks. I have yet to mtb there, but I have hiked there with my wife several times.

Another option is to just hike the beach?

Big Basin is also another great place to hike, but it's like 30min from Santa Cruz...

Do you guys hike much? Are you sure of your desired distance? For day hikes were I plan a somewhat brisk pace, I plan to spend 1 hour hiking 2 miles on moderate terrain. If there is a lot of elevation change, or if either of you are in poor shape or like to take lots of pictures, etc. give yourself more time.
While we're both morbidly obese and have never hiked further than the distance from fridge to sofa, I've got my personal locator beacon so's we can call for aid when our supply of Brawndo and Doritos run out, or we just get tired. So I think we'll be fine. ;)
 

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I hike at Nisene Marks quite a bit. The West Ridge trail is great for a longer hike as is the trail that goes to the Epicenter. There are some nice trails by the entrance station that hug Aptos creek on both sides. Here you will see a few bikes too since some of this singletrack is legal. Excellent Redwood groves, ferns, etc. Enjoy a good brew at Seabright Brewery when you are done.
 

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Fireball in the Night
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Cowell has an entrance on Hwy 9 across from the Bigfoot Museum. That area has an entrance fee & a brochure outlining all the numbered trees along the trails and is mostly flat terrain, graded for all 4 generations of your family.

Cowell has an entrance on Graham Hill Rd. somewhat near Sims, you'll see cars parked on the "frontage road" in the brush, and there's more vertical + varied terrain with a water crossing, etc. Popular with dogs and sometimes, horses.

Fall Creek might be one of the areas best kept secrets and IIRC it was recently highlighted by Weekend Sherpa dot com in their helpful "what the hell to do outside" email blast. Kilns and water crossings...

I prefer not to hike on the biking trails such as Wilder, Nisene.
 

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Rex_Skidmore said:
.

Cowell has an entrance on Graham Hill Rd. somewhat near Sims, you'll see cars parked on the "frontage road" in the brush, and there's more vertical + varied terrain with a water crossing, etc. Popular with dogs and sometimes, horses.
This is the entrance that I pointed out in my map. It is about a mile and a quarter up the hill from Denny's just past the Sims road light. You will see a sign on the left almost across the street from the Liquor store and next to the horse show grounds that says "Henry Cowell South Boundary" you can pull in there just past the sign as stated above and park for free (lock everything up and keep valuables out of site). Follow my map or just head into the woods, everything ends up in more or less the same spot. Head up to the observation deck and then pick any route back. This is about a 2 hour hike with some hills and varied terrain (even a paved road).
good luck if you go this route.
Rick
 

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FYI, most of the good hiking trails in Nisene are not even near the biking trails and Aptos Creek fireroad. Occasionaly I will see a hiker or two and every once in a while a couple of riders.
 

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Plim said:
While we're both morbidly obese and have never hiked further than the distance from fridge to sofa, I've got my personal locator beacon so's we can call for aid when our supply of Brawndo and Doritos run out, or we just get tired. So I think we'll be fine. ;)
Lol, alright, as long as you got your PLB.:thumbsup:
 

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That hike at Cowell that RJG posted up would take you through a bunch of different habitats. You'd see sandhills, redwoods, chaparral, etc. You'd also see that bench posted here:
http://forums.mtbr.com/showpost.php?p=6499316&postcount=121

Fall Creek is very cool. There is a small parking lot off Felton Empire road, practically across the street from Hallcrest Winery. You can also hike in from behind the high school football field in Felton.

I keep thinking of where to hike at Wilder, but come up against the mileage you mentioned and not doing an out and back on one of the roads. That said, walking out to the ocean along the bluffs trail can be very picturesque. Another good one is to park on empire Grade up near Twin Gates and hike to the Eucalyptus Grove, because you walk through those rolling meadows, then suddenly get to a place with a distant ocean view. Best done on a very clear day though.
 
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