Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains: magnificent. And popular! Escape the crowds by hiking the lesser-known trails starting at the campground entrance off of Graham Hill Road. Pine Trail to Eagle Creek Trail is a short but sweet hike through redwoods to a riverside beach.
This 3-mile (round-trip) hike starts at Pine Trail and takes you through Santa Cruz’s rare sandhill ecosystem where chamise and manzanita thrive in the sandy soil. Continue onto the lush Eagle Creek Trail, hiking under the cover of towering redwoods. The trail descends towards the San Lorenzo River where small beaches, collectively called Cable Car Beach, line the water. It’s ideal for a rest and a picnic. Return the way you came.
From Hwy. 17 take the Mount Hermon Rd. exit. Follow Mount Hermon Rd. until it ends at Graham Hill Rd. Turn left onto Graham Hill; the entrance to the campground is about 2.5 miles down on the right. Cross the street to the start on Pine Trail. Dog-friendly!