About two miles west of Santa Cruz lies a large dairy farm that in 1974 was purchased by California State Parks to preserve the land and the farm for future generations to enjoy. The property has six excellent beaches and over 30 miles of trails and old roads to explore. For the residents of Santa Cruz this is a huge source of outdoor recreation. For those of us visiting Santa Cruz County it’s a park that shouldn’t be missed.
From the main parking area a short trail leads to the Cultural Preserve Area where visitors can see the various dairy buildings including barns, sheds, old farm houses, and a granary. Next up is the Old Cove Landing Trail which also begins at the main parking lot. This trail makes a loop that visits Wilder Beach (a beautiful beach that is closed to the public), Fern Grotto Beach, and Sand Plant Beach. This is a picturesque route that follows an irregular bluff with many rocks and coves below.
The park has three other beaches to visit, but they have separate parking areas farther west on Highway 1. Four Mile Beach is the largest and easiest to access. Three Mile Beach and Strawberry Beach are more remote, but worth the effort required to hike out to them.
Most of the park is inland from the highway and is crisscrossed with trails and old farm roads that are open to many uses including mountain biking, horseback riding, and, of course, hiking. The best-known trailhead is at the main parking lot, but another trail begins across from the parking lot for Four Mile Beach.
All services are available nearby in beautiful Western Santa Cruz.
Beaches on this map
Wilder Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park is a natural reserve that is unfortunately off-limits to public visitation. Snowy Plover birds have made Wilder Beach a preferred nesting spot so […]
Fern Grotto Beach is definitely worth the hike from the Wilder Ranch State Park visitor center. The grotto is a shallow cave at the back of the beach with ferns […]
Sand Plant Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park is at the base of a gulch that connects to a sand harvesting site west of Santa Cruz, CA. This gulch and […]
Strawberry Beach is a remote sandy beach in Wilder Ranch State Park north of Santa Cruz, CA. It’s probably the least visited beach in the park and is a great […]
3 Mile Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park is a secluded sandy beach west of Santa Cruz. It requires quite a hike along the Ohlone Bluffs Trail from the Four Mile […]
4 Mile Beach at Wilder Ranch State Park is the most accessible beach open to the public in the park. Luckily this is one of the nicest and largest beaches […]
Other locations on this map
Historic Dairy Farm Buildings
Wilder Ranch Dairy Farm buildings in the Cultural Preserve Area
Network of Trails and Old Roads
About 30 miles of inland routes for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding (no dogs allowed)