I’ve been so anxious to get out and hike. The rain this winter has made it almost impossible! Even when there is a break in the weather, the trails are either muddy or washed out. I was determined to get out and see some wildflowers so I headed to Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz, CA. This was my first visit there so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read that there are flat trails along the coastal bluffs and also some steeper trails up towards the hills. I decided on the bluffs after exploring a bit around the ranch.
The ranch was amazing, the houses and barns are all there, they have animals in the pens, and there were even some old rusty John Deere tractors. There was a cute garden and picnic tables and flowers just about everywhere!
I headed towards the ocean along a very well worn path across the
railroad tracks. The views were amazing and the wildflowers were everywhere. I couldn’t stop taking photos with my iPhone. The short loop along Old Cove Landing Trail took 2 1/2 hours because I kept stopping to admire everything around me. I had the paper guide explaining the numbered markers along the way. The flowers in the fields and along the fences were incredible, there must have been dozens of varieties in every color imaginable.
As I got closer to the ocean, the landscape changed and plants and native flowers became more coastal. Walking along the cliffs made me a little dizzy but with the waves
crashing below, I couldn’t help but get closer to the edge to look down. The first beach I passed from above was Wilder Beach and is closed to the public. It is now a nature preserve where the protected Snowy Plover birds are breeding and nesting. I was able to see them from above and watched them run along with the waves flowing in and going out.
I hiked further along the edge of the cliff trail and saw seagulls nesting along the cliffs. I reached a side path along the trail and was able to walk down towards Fern Grotto Beach. It was a lovely little secluded sandy beach. I could just imagine Ariel hanging out there. Back up to the trail, and along the cliffs, I saw rabbits running in and out of bushes along the way. Animal tracks in the mud that I was hoping were bobcat, were more likely coyote or fox.
Heading back towards the ranch, I passed many more wildflowers and ended back at the parking lot for a perfect little loop and introduction to Wilder Ranch.
I definitely need to head back soon and try one of the trails that go up into the hills, if this rain would just let up, we’ve had enough already!
Trail: Old Cove Landing Trail
Start/End: Wilder Ranch State Park parking lot
Can anyone identify those animal tracks for me?