Stunning redwoods, huge ocean views, rolling hills, and gorgeous beaches … Santa Cruz has epic scenery! So how do you enjoy it all in one jaunt? Go Wilder! A 5-mile (round-trip) hike in Wilder Ranch State Park packs plenty of highlights. Park across from 4 Mile Beach—also part of the park—and take the Baldwin Loop Trail (though signed, it is small, so be on the lookout). An immediate uphill climb greets you, and within 0.5 mile the trail flattens, winding along an exposed section dotted in oaks, with the ocean at your back and grassy hills ahead. Follow signs for the Enchanted Loop, which drops you into a beautiful forest of ferns and redwoods. It eventually loops back to the Baldwin Loop, where you’ll go left and hike along another exposed section. From this high vantage you get a bird’s-eye view of 4 Mile Beach below and the vast Pacific beyond.
BONUS BITES: The nearby West End Tap & Kitchen is a great place for lunch, offering tasty flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, and a large selection of beers on tap.
From CA-17 S, continue onto CA-1 N. Drive through Santa Cruz towards Davenport, passing signs for Wilder Ranch State Park. Off-street parking spots for these trails are at the farthest end of the park, across from 4 Mile Beach. No dogs.