Momentum: Santa Cruz getaway

The May 2010 issue of Momentum Magazine features a quick weekend getaway to Santa Cruz, California.

I like it because, for me, Santa Cruz is a three mile ride downhill to the beach from my home. Author Saskia Lucas runs the “Bike Smart” youth bike education program in Santa Cruz, and her recommendation to ride north out of Santa Cruz to Davenport and the Swanton Berry Stand is right on the money.

To get down to Santa Cruz, she suggests riding down from San Francisco on the Coast Highway, but Yikes! — Highway 1 at Devil’s Slide south of Pacifica is breathtaking but it’s not for the faint of heart.

From the East Bay, Saskia recommends Amtrak Capitol Corridor to San Jose before hopping on the Highway 17 bus. For San Francisco and Peninsula residents, Caltrain down to San Jose is the way to roll.

Wilder Ranch bike path
Bike path to Wilder Ranch State Park

If you’re looking for a quick day trip, cruising up West Cliff Drive north to Natural Bridges State Beach is always a serene ride. You can cut across Natural Bridges, go straight out on Natural Bridges Drive at the far west side of Santa Cruz, hang a left on Mission Street and continue west on the sidepath that takes you directly to Wilder Ranch State Park and its preserved 19th century dairy farm. Turn right to go through a tunnel underneath Highway 1 to access mountain bike trails, or go left across the dairy ranch buildings to continue on several miles of seaside trails. Keep your eyes open and you’ll likely see whales spouting not too far off the coast. On the trail, you may run across a bobcat.

Steamer Lane Lighthouse Santa Cruz, California
View from the West Cliff Drive sidepath in Santa Cruz.

There is no camping at Natural Bridges State Beach. At Wilder Ranch, first come first serve equestrian camping is available — I have no idea if these sites are open for bicyclists or not. Bike accessible backcountry campsites are available in Big Basin upstream from Waddell Beach about 20 miles north of Santa Cruz.

Daughter Panda
My daughter and I on the Waddell Creek trail in Big Basin State Park.

Read more –> Santa Cruz Weekend Getaway.

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