I don't know about you but I am not a fan of tourists wandering around aimlessly getting in someones way. If you haven't been to Santa Cruz, well its just that. This was my second time visiting and the first time was a complete mess during the summer. People from all over the world walking around with a beer in hand and a funnel cake in the other. (Don't get me wrong, I fucking love funnel cake.) They get in your way because A. They are hammered and stumbling everywhere. B. Foreigners do not know that we as Americans are supposed to walk on the right hand side of the sidewalk. Unfortunately, half of Americans still have not figured this out. :-(
Now, if you want to enjoy the beautiful pristine beaches and natural beauty of coastline, without the hassle of a busy crowd, check out Wilder Ranch State Park. My girlfriend and I decided we wanted to get away from the busy city one day and head south to Santa Cruz. A short hour drive from Oakland. Well, depending who drives right? She is a go-with-the-flow type of girl so I suggested this place and of course she was totally game. No questions asked. Women love the sun, beaches, and the ocean. Win Win!
Wilder Ranch is located roughly five minutes north of Santa Cruz right off the famous Pacific Coast Highway Route 1. One of the most scenic drives in America which I highly recommend to anyone. This is a State Park so there was a $10 Car pass to get into the park. Why can't all parks be free?! There are multiple hiking trails here but the one we hiked which is relatively flat the whole way was the Old Landing Cove Trail which connects to Ohlone Bluff Trail. At 7.6 miles out and back, this a very easy trail to hike with the lil chaps (children) or grand parents.
When you first get to the ocean during the hike, there is Wilder Beach to your left which apparently is privately owned and were not supposed to go there. Rules are meant to be broken and i am not going to let a sign stop me to enjoy pristine views of a beach all to ourselves. The hard part is climbing down which wasn't too bad. Once you get down there, there is a cove that goes about 10-15 feet deep that looks into the ocean (see photo below).
The trail offers astounding views of the cliffs to gaze at along the way. You want to get close to the ocean or get in it safely you say? Well you are in luck my friend. There are a few beaches you are able to walk down a path to catch some rays, have a picnic, roll around in the sand or jump into the bitter cold water. Your choice! Here is the Brochure they offer on the website so you have a better idea of the layout of the park. Another spot to stop at is Natural Bridges State Park as well. Murica!