moderate hikes

Five Fall Santa Cruz Mountain Hikes

The Fall Creek Trail runs right next to the creek covered in lush greenery. © California State Parks.

Enjoy the changing colors of the leaves and the serenity of hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Oh, and a chai recipe to warm you up!

Pescadero Creek County Park: Brook Trail Loop

Redwoods on the Brook Trail. Pescadero Creek does "misty forest" very well.

A satisfying half-day hike featuring long valley views, skyscraping redwoods and a delightful mini-gorge complete with a waterfall built to scale.

Ridge Trail–Fall Creek Trail

Fall Creek Trail, just north of the junction with South Fork Trail. Hilltromper photo.

Looking for a quick getaway or workout? This lollipop satisfies with a good 500-foot climb to a lofty redwood-lined ridge before descending to picturesque Fall Creek and following it back to the start of the loop.

Twin Oaks Tromp

Sky lupine on Twin Oaks Trail, a welcome sign of spring.

Sky lupine, blue-eyed grass, checkerbloom and a bazillion poppies are out on this favorite trail of mountain bikers and hikers alike.

Vernal Ridge Trail

Nice views at this Moore Creek Preserve, no? Hilltromper photo.

Great views without busting your arse.

Hike to the Loma Prieta Epicenter

It's exciting in an existential sense. Photo by Fogcat5/Creative Commons.

A six-mile hike in Nisene Marks State Park to the epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.

Top 5 Rainy Season Hikes

A banana slug inches down a tree trunk in Nisene Marks State Park. Hilltromper photo.

The best places in Santa Cruz County to go hiking in wet weather.

Observation Deck Hike

The Observation Deck at Henry Cowell overlooks rare sandhill habitat and offers huge views of the mountains and the sea. Photo by Hilltromper.

4 miles RT; 2 hours; moderate (550 ft. elev. gain)
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Berry Creek Falls from Waddell Beach

The lower half of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail—basically a fire road between Waddell Beach and Berry Creek Falls — follows West Waddell Creek. Hilltromper photo.

12 miles RT; 600 ft elevation gain; 4-5 hours; moderate to strenuous
Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail from Waddell Beach to Berry Creek Falls Trail in Big Basin

Balconies Loop

Balconies Trail Loop. Photo credit: Garrett McAuliffe

2.4 miles; 1.5 hours; easy to moderate
Pinnacles National Park