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Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz

Categories: State Parks, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.6/5 based on 160+ reviews on the web
Wilder Ranch State Park is a California State Park on the Pacific Ocean coast north of Santa Cruz, California. The park was formerly a dairy ranch, and many of the ranch buildings have been restored for use as a museum. There are no campgrounds; a day-use parking lot provides access to the museum. Dogs are prohibited on the trails, but many trails allow bikes and/or horses. The long trails and ocean views make the area a favorite of hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers.HistoryThe first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish PortolĂ  expedition, followed the coast in this area on its way north, camping at today's Majors Creek (now the northern park boundary) on October 18, 1769. On its way through today's Santa Cruz County, the explorers bestowed a few important names which survive today: Pajaro River, San Lorenzo River and Santa Cruz. On the return journey to San Diego, the party camped at the same spot on November 21. Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi noted in his diary the difficulty of moving along this part of the coast: "The road on this march was very troublesome, on account of the frequent gulches along the way."When Mission Santa Cruz was established in 1791, the area became part of the mission pasture lands. Secularization of the missions in 1834 divided the mission lands into large land grants called "ranchos". Wilder Ranch was part of Rancho Refugio, a Mexican land grant of 1839. Historic buildings include part of the adobe rancho house built around that time by rancho grantee Jose Bolcoff.
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  • This a nice place to go for a hike on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. There is also a small farm with some animals. There was a wedding going on when we were there. Good washrooms and water. 
  • Enjoy the windy and amazing views of the ocean!) Probably, that is the most scenic coastline on here in Northern California. 
  • If you want to go for a nice walk along the rugged California coast come here. The walk is along the top of the bluff but there is access to the beach. Be sure to grab a sandwich at Togos in Santa Cru...  read more »
  • Walking around the ranch buildings and environs is great with small children. We like to explore the climbing trees by the road, the overgrown aloe plant mazes, and see the farm animals. The tours are wonderful for history enthusiasts.
  • Great little coastal hike with the added bonus of some grottos on the way. Very easy and flat, and the perfect temperature.There was fresh water flowing into the caves allowing some cool ferns to grow. I suspect the water came from the brussel sprout farms nearby. Apparently this ranch is responsible for 12% of the domestic crop, making it number one on many children's hit lists.
  • Great place to walk around, definitely would recommend it if you are looking for a place to have a picnic. However, they don't have proper washing stations so make sure to bring hand sanitizer or your own soap. We went on a Monday so there weren't alot of people, it looks like they host events there all year round though!
  • The place gets crowded, so get here early. The hike to the coast is rather bland and boring, but the coast is amazing. Great beaches and plenty of wildlife as well. I didn't make it to the historic houses or anywhere else except for the main coastal loop. However, I fully intend on going back to do more.
  • Great views of the ocean. Nice trail along the Bluff for walking or jogging. Biking, hiking, running, horseback riding trails through the forests and grasslands. Interesting ranch operation from last century, and a good place for family picnic.
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