Whitehouse Ridge Trail

A short but steep hike on the inland side of Año Nuevo State Park


2.4 miles RT, 2 hours; strenuous; 800 feet elevation gain

by Allison Titus

The Whitehouse Ridge Trail is a short hike just a couple miles inland of Highway 1 within Año Nuevo State Park. It is just over a mile long one way, but it’s a calf burner; it immediately charges uphill into the redwoods from the takeoff. The trail follows switchbacks to the top of a ridge up to the first (or “lower”) vista point. The second (upper) vista point is a half mile farther. Beyond that, just over a quarter mile, is Chalks Road and the Big Basin Redwoods State Park boundary.

The views from the vista points are well worth the steep climb. They look out over Highway 1, small coastal farms, and finally, the rugged Pacific ocean edge. Año Nuevo Point is clearly visible from both vistas. The trail itself is also littered with beautiful views, from a bubbling creek at the trailhead to a variety of mushrooms that pop up along the edges.

The trail begins tucked away into the hills, and therefore is shielded from traffic noise and Highway 1. It’s not a busy spot, so the chatter of other visitors is infrequent. The near-complete silence is refreshing. The loudest noise, in all likelihood, may be your own hiking boots hitting the redwood needle-littered path.

For a long day of hiking (9 miles!), continue onto Chalks Road and then onto Westridge Trail in Big Basin, dropping down and coming out on the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. This requires two cars or a shuttle, since Big Basin and Ano Nuevo are not connected at Highway 1.

Trailhead Directions: From Santa Cruz, head past the Año Nuevo State Park park entrance just over a mile to Whitehouse Canyon Road, a dirt road on the right-hand side of Highway 1. The road is unmarked and easy to miss, but watch for a green sign with a white triangle on it and you’ll know you’re there. If you’ve hit Gazos Creek Road, you’ve gone too far. Head up the dirt road about two and a half miles into redwood territory. There’ll be a small parking area on the left and a tiny hiking sign on the right. That is the Whitehouse Ridge trailhead.

Back to Año Nuevo State Park.