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Scott Creek

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Surfing, kite surfing and sunning at Scott Creek Beach, 20 minutes north of Santa Cruz.

“Free parking,” “no people” and “beach” are three things you don’t often hear spoken in the same sentence in California. But about three miles north of Davenport and 15 miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway One is Scott Creek Beach, the rare place that fits that bill.

The beach itself is roughly a half-mile long, situated between two large bluffs. On the north end is a rocky point that makes for a pretty consistent right depending on the swell direction. A strong northwest in the winter will have that thing reeling head high to double overhead with the weaker southern swells in the summer keeping it a mellow 3-5 feet on good days. Be careful on a low tide, because as you drift north there are a handful of unexposed rocks that could ruin your day.

More central on the inside section is a long line of peaky beach break that can be a bit temperamental. Depending on a number of factors (tide, swell, wind, etc.), it can be your best friend or a dodgy wall of closeouts. There’s so much sand moving around that you can get it great one day and have the same conditions the next, and it will line up in a completely different spot. But that’s what keeps it interesting.

On the southern end of the beach is another section of beach break that is hit-or-miss as well. On smaller days it can be a really good spot for beginning surfers who don’t want the stress of 50-plus people huddled around a single break in town.

The beauty of Scotts is really the ability to escape the hordes of tourists that descend from the Bay Area each summer. Because of its remote location, the beach will never become a go-to destination for sunscreen-clad, cooler-toting beach mongols (I just made that word up). Heavy winds and a thick marine layer (at times) also keep it off the radar.

While there’s nothing like a still, sunny day up north, howling on-shore winds can blow the place out, so check the report before making the trip. Those windy days also make for great kite surfing.

Open from sunrise to sunset, Scott Creek is a great place to surf, hang out or just take in the scenery. Rugged landscapes and an endless view of the Pacific remind anyone who sets foot in the sand why Northern California is such a unique and amazing place.

LOOK OUT FOR Wildlife—tons of birds, dolphins, seals and even whales. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to see a dead seal wash up onshore. Seals don’t typically die of old age, if you know what I mean…

DON'T FORGET TO BRING A jacket. It can go from sunny and warm to windy and cold within an hour, so don’t be the whiny kid that forgets his jacket and wants to go home early.

RULES
-No pets (So lame.) Editor's note: Although in this case, it's a good idea to leave Rex at home, since endangered snowy plovers nest on open parts of this beach.
-No fires
-No overnight camping
-No alcohol. Nobody’s going to search your cooler, but you can get a ticket if you’re not discreet.

And pick up your trash!

—Joe Garza


Directions: From Santa Cruz, follow Highway One 15 miles north of Santa Cruz (3 miles past Davenport). Scott Creek Beach is in a dip between two hills. Parking is along the highway, but careful when crossing the street because, you know, it’s a highway.


NEARBY SURFING
Four-Mile Beach

NEARBY BEACHES
Greyhound Rock
Ano Nuevo State Park
Panther Beach

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Field Notes

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Joe ~ I write to ask you to edit your piece on Scott Creek, to remove the "No pets (So lame.)" remark. There is nothing "lame" about this rule, in place to protect wildlife of the area, especially from dogs. The endangered Snowy Plover, already extant on other Santa Cruz beaches, nest, rests and rears young at Scott Creek beach. Point Blue http://www.pointblue.org/ is assisting the County of Santa Cruz to protect this sensitive species. Surely people can respect the needs of other species to be on the beach. Dogs are found at every other beach in the County, both on and off leash. Can we please celebrate the specialness of Scott Creek and be willing to not occupy every last inch of the natural coast with our canine companions? How selfish do we have to be?!

 

I can't find a way to edit my original post. I meant to write that the Snowy Plover does not nest on many other beaches in the County, where dogs are allowed.

 

We allow our writers to voice their opinions. What Joe may be expressing here is frustration about not being able to take his pet somewhere, not his desire to trample plover nesting areas.

 

I totally agree with Jean in her comment. I am under the impression this website is for "nature worshipers"? I then have to question what the definition of that is? Not allowing pets on this beach is critical to the survival of the endangered Snowy Plovers that make Scott Creek home and is by no means lame. The signage is there for a reason, although I have seen it ignored with owners allowing their dogs to run rampant on the beach. These birds nest on open areas of the beach that are easily trampled by both humans and their dogs. I was only there this morning and encountered several of these fragile little birds in such a precarious location. They blend in with the landscape, so it is very easy to see just how vulnerable they are. It is becoming increasingly clear to me wherever I go these days, that signage and rules no longer apply where pet owners are concerned. It is selfish, irresponsible and shameful to think there is no thought for the native wildlife that inhabits these areas. So PLEASE can we emphasize the importance of this area to an endangered species rather than complain that this one small stretch of beach is not a dog park!
http://www.westernsnowyplover.org/photo_essay.html

 

I just added a note about the snowy plover, Jacqueline. I appreciate the content of your comment.

 

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