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Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz
(4.7/5 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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • A tour of this park is simply amazing. You can walk or go on bike. Appreciate mini cliffs and the Majesty of the sea at every step. If you have the opportunity to go it is worth much.
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  • Took a bit of walking to get to the shore from the parking lot past the ranch but was worth the view and the walk. I would not say this is wilderness but a good walk within a close drive from town. 
  • We live twenty minutes from Wilder Ranch and walk here frequently. The views of the protected beaches at the base of cliffs are magnificent- not even a footprint on them. Walking along the ocean bluff...  more »
Google
  • Wilde Ranch is a beautiful place to bike or hike. It has both historic ranch buildings including the original rancho home, Victorian home, barns/stables, and old farm equipment. You can hike along the California coastline with beautiful views and sandy but typically windy beaches. It's perfect for a solo or family outing and conveniently located off of Hwy 1.
  • 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.
  • Wonderful low-key hiking amongst gorgeous scenery and adorable fauna.
  • 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 for mountain biking, demoed a bike from Santa Cruz bikes and was able to ride for 2 hours and covered most of the different loops in the park. Great time and nice views, scenery and trails for different levels of mountain biking.