Spring Trail to Spring Box Trail


Spring Trail to Spring Box Trail to Lime Kiln Trail to Spring Trail
3 miles; 60 minutes; easy to moderate

Starting from the Spring Street entrance, Spring Trail—basically flat, wide and picturesque—makes for a snazzy in-and-out that’s really popular with runners and dogwalkers. It wends through oak and madrone forest, stands of fragrant redwood and open areas with sweeping views of the mountains, the city and Monterey Bay.

For a little variety, peel off Spring Trail at Spring Box Trail, which heads up the hillside but is not overly steep. Just before the intersection with Lime Kiln Trail, you’ll see a little path off to the right. It’s actually a small unmarked loop that leads to one of the Pogonip’s few old-growth redwood trees, a big gnarled giant with funky burls that are probably the reason it was spared the axe. Just a few feet away is one of the “spring boxes”—a cement-lined square pond at the base of a big redwood. Peer into its cool blue-green depths and you’ll see koi and goldfish set free by Santa Cruzans and evidently able to hide from raccoons. It’s a lovely, peaceful scene, and sometimes someone will set a Buddha or some other talisman by the pool. These tend to disappear, which is a little sad, but such are the lessons of impermanence.

At the intersection of Spring Box and Lime Kiln Trail, go right. The kilns are right there, with a little interpretive plaque that does not quite communicate the horrifying irony that much of the magnificent old-growth forest that once carpeted these hills was chopped down for firewood to fuel the kilns, which baked marble until it formed lime in a powdered form that could be shipped all over the country for use as mortar. Chew on that ignominious end to a remarkable ecosystem as you make your way down gently sloping, visually pleasing Lime Kiln Trail to Spring Trail. At Spring Trail, take the hard right and head back to where you came, enjoying the views and ripple effect of alternating redwood and oak forest along the path. Ahh.

Back to The Pogonip.