Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz

4.7
#2 of 11 in Parks in Santa Cruz
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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Wilder Ranch State Park Reviews
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  • The coastal hike to Fern Grotto Beach is gentle with spectacular vistas and fascinating wildlife. I didn't expect the walk out to be so easy! The grotto was beautiful, but a little bit spooky too.  more »
  • The old Wilder Dairy family ranch made its way into the hands of local community as a sea fronting historic site with miles of trails inland of hwy 1 and two Victorian era homes of the glory days.  more »
  • A few years back, we rented a house just two miles south of this state park and never knew it existed, but what a find! A 2-3 Mike trail winds its way along the cliff side. Magnificent, almost complet...  more »
Google
  • I had an absolutely awesome ride on my mountain bike. It's very beautiful and beginner-friendly. Just keep an eye on your children and be careful if you go out solo, especially towards night time. I encountered a young mountain lion on my way back and it was getting pretty dark, so that was a bit scary. However, mountain lions are present all over bay area, so same rules apply everywhere. Luckily, this one did not bother me. Anyways, beautiful area, fresh area, sound of waves breaking on cliffs and shore.... what more one can ask for out of a relaxing ride? Two thumbs up.
  • Somehow, this gem of a state park escaped me for years...I am in deep, passionate love with the Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz coastline, and this wonderful state park along the coast provides an incredible opportunity to enjoy everything the area has to offer: meandering trails, breathtaking vistas, the powerful coast, abundant wildlife. During my afternoon wandering the trails, I enjoyed rabbits, seals, countless seabirds, a pod of whales offshore, and even a bobcat watching as I strolled by. If you're in the mood for a wonderful walk, peaceful coastal hills, fresh air and the chance to say hello to Mother Nature, then Wilder Ranch State Park is a perfect place to park, get out of your car, and invest a few hours of your life. You'll get one heck of a return on that investment and carry those hours with you, I promise.
  • I'm not much of a hiker, luckily this was more of a very nice stroll. We took the flat side which was pleasant, however there is a more adventurous side that explores UCSC. Beautiful views as you walk along the ocean, with tons of photo opportunities. Whether walking, jogging, or biking, it's a pleasant time.
  • Beautiful state park with lots of great trails to hike. I usually hike the coastal loop, it is the easiest. I can't remember it's name or distance but it's easy to find!
  • Great place to spend the day hiking or Mountain Biking. Incredible vistas of the Monterey Bay. On a good day you can see all the way to the Carmel Valley Highlands. In the spring you have plenty of wild flowers in the open meadows as you progress up the hill from highway 1.

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