The sun is shining and the flowers are in bloom. Which makes it the perfect time to lace up those hiking boots and head outside to start exploring! Wilder Ranch State Park is somewhere that can boast about ‘having it all’. You can explore a range of hiking trails, stop by some of the Victorian homes and barns as you wander around, or even sunbathe on the beach.
Hiking, biking, and horseback riding at Wilder
At Wilder Ranch State Park there are over 35 miles of parkland. The trails are easy to follow and are perfect for hiking, biking or horseback riding. They range in length and difficulty so make sure you stop by the Visitors Center before setting off.
After five long years of drought here in California, we deserve a bit of rain! The recent wet weather has made for spectacular green grass terraces and marshlands spotted with bright wildflowers. It has also brought back a lot of the flora and fauna to the area so it is the perfect place to explore on a sunny day.
The park is home to Douglas-firs, redwoods and pine trees. As well as the sweet smelling wild lilac, sticky monkey-flower, and blackberry. On your hike, through the park, you might be lucky enough to spot some deer, bobcats, and coyotes. If you stick to the coastal trails you will see harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks, or some sea otters slinking through the water.
Engelsmans Loop Trail
One of our favorite hikes is the Engelsmans Loop Trail. This loop is a moderate hike that takes about 90 minutes to complete. The main path will take you through grasslands with graceful old oak and madrone trees and past Wilder Creek.
As you head further up the trail you will come across a meadow filled with grazing deer. The view of the Monterey Bay is breathtaking, especially if it is a clear day. With the help of binoculars, you may see a passing pod of dolphins dancing in the waves, or whales migrating to warmer waters.
Cultural Preserve area
The Cultural Preserve area makes Wilder Ranch a particularly unique place to visit. You can learn about early farming through interactive exhibitions, tours, and living history demonstrations. For all you history buffs, there is a water-powered machine shop and Victorian home from the late 1800s. These give an insight into the lives of Santa Cruz locals during the Victorian era.
This is also a great place to take kids! The distance from the parking lot is close. The area has sheep, goats, horses and chickens. There is plenty of open space to run around, and picnic tables perfect for lunch.
Wilder Ranch Park is open year-round from 8 am until sunset. Make sure you get there early on the weekends, especially in spring and summer. It is a popular spot which gets busier throughout the day. If you arrive early you will have time alone on the trails. And the chance to take photos of the incredible scenery without any other people in them!
Whether you are looking for a quick Sunday stroll or a long day out with the kids. Wilder Ranch is the perfect day trip for anyone hoping to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the great outdoors.
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