Tucked in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Loch Lomond Recreation Area is known for its gorgeous reservoir, less known for its charming Clar Innis Island (reached only by kayak or canoe) and almost entirely overlooked for its fantastic 4-mile (round-trip) hike through majestic redwoods and up to a beautiful view. But you’ve only got a few more weekends to enjoy this gem before it closes for the season (October 14; see note in italics below).
Be one of the few to take advantage! Start on Loch Trail, across from the park store near the lake. Traverse lakeside from cove to cove, enjoying abundant views of Loch Lomond. Continuing past madrones and tan oaks, you’ll reach a junction for MacLaren Trail; be sure to keep left to continue on Loch Trail until you reach a sign marking Loch Sloy Service Road. From here, turn left onto Loch Sloy, where sticky monkey flower is still lingering along the path.
Continue onto Highland Service Road and begin a steep ascent. At the top of the trail you’ll find your payoff in a gorgeous vista—Loch Lomond, cradled by the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountains. Descend, and when you reach Loch Lomond Way go right on the paved road you took on your drive into the park, which will lead you back to the lake and the Loch Trail trailhead.
Loch Lomond is currently open only on weekends, through October 14. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Boat rentals stop at 4 p.m. and boaters must be off the lake by 5 p.m. Loch Lomond will re-open daily starting March 1 through Labor Day. Directions: From Hwy. 9 in Felton, take Graham Hill Rd. southeast. In half a mile, turn left on E. Zayante Rd. and take a slight left onto Lompico Rd. Turn left on West Dr. and take all the necessary turns to stay on West Dr. Take a slight right onto Sequoia Ave. and then left to stay on Sequoia and continue on Loch Lomond Way. Pay a vehicle entrance fee ($6) at the entrance’s kiosk (cash only) or at the park store (cash or card). For more information, including boat reservations, call (831) 335-7424.