With thousands of acres of undeveloped space, it’s easy to get away from it all in Santa Cruz even while sticking close to town—and Moore Creek Preserve
marks the spot. Because it’s relatively new (the city purchased the land in 1998), very few people take advantage of this 246-acre gem. Enjoy its creek-side seclusion and ocean views on a 2.25-mile round-trip hike featuring the park’s namesake Moore Creek, one of the most pristine watersheds in Santa Cruz. The trailhead is tucked in at the end of Meder Street, 2.5 miles from downtown on the edge of the west side. Follow the East Meadow Trail for 100 yards before hanging a left at Moore Creek Trail. From there, drop under a canopy of coast live oak and riparian forest that runs along a ridge before dipping down and across West Branch Moore Creek. After half a mile, cross the creek and begin a slight uphill that leads to a grassy windswept meadow with cows and horses. At the T-intersection, head right up the Terrace Loop Trail for a panorama of Monterey Bay before heading back the way you came. Moore, please!
From downtown Santa Cruz, head up Walnut Ave. Turn left on Mission St. then right on Bay St. and left on Meder St. Park on Western Dr. or Meder St., east of Western Dr. Walk west along Meder St. for half a mile until the street dead ends at the Moore Creek Preserve trailhead. Here’s a map of how to get there. Maps are available at the trailhead or contact the parks and recreation department at 831-420-5270. No dogs.