Surprise your friends by taking them to see Madonna! And the venue … it’s going to be amazing: high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains and dominated by redwood trees. Okay, we’re not talking “Like a Virgin” Madonna; we’re talking like “Second-Growth Redwoods” Mount Madonna. This beautiful 3,200-acre park 10 miles west of Gilroy in the Santa Cruz Mountains has 20 miles of secluded hiking trails to explore.
For a moderate journey, take a 1.7-mile loop hike through towering redwoods fringed by green ferns and oak woodland. Start on the Sprig Trail for a brief stretch before joining up on Bayview Trail. Towering redwoods provide plenty of shade as the path traces a canyon and offers partial views of Monterey Bay to the west. You’ll weave in and out of the forest on the Redwood, Iron Springs, and Blackhawk Trails. Keep an eye out for wildflowers and the region’s famous banana slugs.
BONUS: Fifteen minutes down the road, heading southwest, is Gizdich Ranch, famous for its apples and apple cider. It also has delicious melt-in-your-mouth berry pies and excellent deli sandwiches.
Mount Madonna County Park is on Highway 152, 10 miles west of Gilroy. Dog-friendly!