by L. Clark Tate
Greyhound Rock County Park will serve for anything from a drive-by picnic site to a day-long beach fest. Turn west from Highway 1 about 15 miles north of Santa Cruz into a good-sized parking lot surrounded by prettily wind-sculpted cypress trees. After you park, walk over to the western edge of the lot to take in the view and see a world of possibility open up before you. Picnic tables, benches, and wheelchair-accessible platforms organize themselves around the most stunning vistas. Families gather to chatter and snack while young couples cuddle up on benches nearby.
Find the trail to the beach between the larger and smaller parking lots by the county beach sign. The paved path is fairly short (maybe a quarter of a mile) but steep, buckled in spots and awash with mud in others, accommodating the weary with several take-a-break benches along the way. The namesake “greyhound rock” (which, sorry, doesn’t look much like a dog) is large and visible from the parking lot; the path hits the beach at its base. The rock, made of ancient mudstone, is hike-able and can be reached during low tide, but be sure to return before the waves block your exit route. Read more
GOOD FOR wheelchair-accessible beach viewing, picnicking, dogs (when leashed), surfing, surf fishing, swimming, tidepooling, and general beach frolicking
NOT WELCOME HERE Littering, alcohol or fires and camping from 10pm to 6am
YOUR MOM WOULD TELL YOU TO bring warm clothes and use the rather uninviting but functional facilities in the parking lot because you won’t want to climb back up the hill to use them later.
MEMORIZE THIS PIECE OF TRIVIA: Greyhound Rock is part of the California Coastal National Monument, a group of 13 sites made up of scenic or oddly shaped boulders located a short distance offshore.
IF YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’LL catch a humpback whale breaching while backlit by the setting sun or see a starfish in a tidepool: win-win.
From Santa Cruz: Drive north on Highway 1 17 miles, past Davenport and Scott Creek. The Greyhound Rock County Park parking lot is on the left. If you get to Waddell Creek Beach, you’ve gone too far.
Greyhound Rock County Park, Davenport, CA, 95017. Learn more at the Greyhound Rock website.