Hot summer day? Ride on! Beat the South Bay heat and get some beautiful scenery on this beginner-friendly 10-mile (round-trip) seaside ride in Santa Cruz. You’ll roll from West Cliff Drive to Wilder Ranch State Park. Start at Bay Street and West Cliff to get the full ocean vista, and pedal along the sidewalk or bike lane, absorbing the sea breeze as you make your way to Natural Bridges State Beach, where the road ends.
Head up Swanton Boulevard and in a few short turns you’ll be at Mission and Shaffer, where a flat paved bike path parallels Highway 1. Rolling farmland and Pacific views take up most of the scenery, brightened by sporadic wildflowers. In just over a mile the trail dips into Wilder Ranch State Park. Hop off for a minute and walk past the garden, saying hello to the chickens and goats and horses. Cottages and farmhouse frame the setting.
Heading back, take a detour on Mission to Swift and Ingalls: Here you can stop at the contemporary Kelly’s French Bakery for a roasted eggplant sandwich, a breaded chicken panini, and macarons in almost any flavor imaginable. There’s an outdoor patio, too. Roll call!
Street parking is available on the side streets by Bay and West Cliff (Lighthouse Ave. and Cowell St.). Follow West Cliff Dr. all the way to Swanton Blvd., and turn right to begin your ascent. Turn left on Delaware, right on Natural Bridges Dr., left on Mission, and cross Shaffer to get on the bike path. To stop at Kelly’s on your way back, continue along Mission instead of turning right on Natural Bridges Dr. Turn right on Swift and left at Ingalls. After you’ve had your lunch, you can continue heading down Swift to connect back to West Cliff. No dogs at Wilder Ranch State Park.