Five Fun Family Hikes in the New Year

Five Fun Family Hikes in the New Year
My family loves to be outdoors, and we live in a great place for hiking! Whether you have little kids, big kids, or no kids at all, here are some of our favorite hiking spots around the county:


While many locals are familiar with the wide, flat Spring trail, this lovely city park also has some hidden gems. Look for goldfish along the Spring Box trail, and the magical rock garden near the intersection of the Spring Box and Lime Kiln trails. For more on this lovely park, check out this more detailed post.

Nisene Marks

Nisene Marks boasts 31 trails, from easy hikes to more challenging ones, to mountain bike-friendly routes. My favorite, for an easy walk with a kid, is the Terrace Trail that meanders along Aptos Creek.

Wilder Ranch

The mostly flat Bluff Trail loops from one end of the parking lot to the other, with views over the cliffs to the ocean. Look for the hidden beach, the sunning seals, and in the summer months, blackberries along the walk. For more challenging hikes and mountain bike rides, explore the part of the park on the other side of Highway 1.

Fall Creek Unit

This beautiful state park consists of trails through the redwoods and up to the old lime kilns. Although some of the trails are currently closed due to fire damage, you can still enjoy some great walks along the creek and through the redwoods. Check the park site for which trails are open.

Land of the Medicine Buddha

We discovered this great place when our daughter was a student at Tara Redwoods, which share the property with the Land of the Medicine Buddha meditation and retreat center. Our daughter loves the creek trails on the lower side of the property, but the hikes up above the retreat center include a labyrinth and a prayer wheel. The land is open from dawn to dusk during the week and noon to dusk on Sunday but closed on Saturday.

Watsonville City Trails

If you are in south county, make sure to explore the three trails that make up the Watsonville City Trails, and provide access to the beautiful freshwater wetlands in the area.
What is your favorite hike in Santa Cruz County?

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