Wilder Ranch State Park


last update: I revisit this park at June 5th 2021, as always something interesting to see and explore.

Where? :  Wilder Ranch State Park is located just 2 miles north of Santa Cruz on hwy 1.

Google Map Link


What? : hike or bike trail going on the edge of the ocean cliff with view and marine birds and sea lions.


When? : Year round.


Due note 1: This is a state park so there is a fee for car entrance.


Due note 2: There is a bike trail that connect Santa Cruz to this park so you can park your car at the north section of the city and bike all the way north through the park.


My thoughts: I visit this park many times and always enjoy it, always something to see, Sea Lions and many birds.

This is a nice easy trail that is going on the cliff above the ocean. You can hike here and enjoy the view but I really recommend this place for easy long bike rides that can stretch for many miles to the north.


The visit:

The trail starts at the main parking lot, here you cross the old railroad tracks and the trail will lead you west to the beach viewpoint.

From here the trail is start going north on the cliff edge looping the ocean coves.

You can see here many birds and during the end of the winter and spring you can see Cormorants nests on cliffs rock ledges.

If you will go down to the sandy beach at Fern Grotto Beach (https://goo.gl/maps/R8cd5JJCTENtbfV9A) you can see the birds up close.
Here you can also find the "hidden" cave just below the cliff, go to your right and you will see the wall with dripping water ferns and a small cave. You can go inside the 100ft deep cave.

You can also see the large colonies of sea lions resting and warming-up in the sun on the rock ledges below.

Overall, this is an easy hike, you are going as far as you want on the trail and one you had enough you will need to go back on the same trail.

Going north on this trail can take you all the way to 4 Mile Beach, a nice beach with rock cliff in both sides of the sandy beach and even a small stream of water getting into the ocean.


The ranch itself is open to visitors and can offer some kids activities.