Law of the Leash: Where to (Legally) Exercise Your Dog in Santa Cruz

Olive Springs Trail Soquel
Imagine 51,000 dogs crowded onto Mitchell’s Cove Beach on West Cliff.

That’s what would happen if every dog in Santa Cruz County gathered at the only off-leash beach in Santa Cruz.

Mitchell’s Cove is the only beach in Santa Cruz County where dogs are allowed to play, fetch, swim and run off-leash.  Another startling fact to throw at you…off-leash romp time is limited to before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm.

Just east of Mitchell’s Cove is Its Beach. This beach is ironically referred to by some (including Google Maps) as “Dog Beach,” even though dogs are not allowed off-leash. Once upon a time Its beach did have legal off-leash hours.

“Our off-leash beach areas are minimal and few for the tens of thousands of dogs in this county,” says Karen Simmons, Chair of the Friends of Lighthouse Field (FOLF).  FOLF would like to see Its Beach allow dogs off-leash, “We are a beach community, and as a community, designating less than two percent of county beaches for dog recreation seems reasonable,” says Simmons.

Eastside pups face the same conundrum. Most people think of the beaches from 20th to 26th Avenue as being dog beaches, since we’re used to seeing happy pups frolic there. But nope, not legal.

Ted M. Coopman, Live Oak Off Leash Advocates (LOOLA) spokesperson, says, “It is the tale of two cities – it is the best of places and worst of places. On the upside, most locals are very dog-friendly, and if you do not mind the technical off-leash violation there are plenty of open spaces and beaches. However, compared to Carmel, San Francisco, or other bay area cities, we are way behind the curve.”

On visual cues alone, it’s confusing where you can legally exercise your dog in Santa Cruz. To help set things straight, we’ve gone on a dog park crawl and put together the following lists of dog-friendly recreation areas. If the curve changes, we’ll be sure to let you know. Paws crossed!


 

How to Use This Post

This is a long post, featuring 40 places you can take your dog (and 13 places dogs aren’t allowed), so to make it easy to navigate we created these handy little buttons below. Click on any of the four buttons to jump to the section of your choice:

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The following icons will be used to indicate which features are available at each location:


Places Dogs are Allowed to Exercise Off-Leash

Off-leash areas provide excellent opportunities for dog-to-dog and dog-to-people social interaction. This helps create confident, self-assured and emotionally happy dogs, which benefits the community at large.

– Melanie Sobel, Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, General Manager

Aptos Dog Park

Aptos Dog ParkThis park, consisting of small and large dog enclosed areas, has pretty tree-lined hills surrounding it. Exit the enclosures and you and your pup can walk meadow’s trails on-leash.

A tent structure provides some shade relief on hot days. Benches, chairs and toys are scattered about. There is a porta potty at the large parking lot. Kitty-corner to the dog park you’ll find soccer fields, baseball fields and a grassy park.

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Chanticleer Avenue Park

Chanticleer Dog Park

Props to the Live Oak community for maintaining this enclosed dog park. Dog lovers have donated toys, and seating.  It also has something very unique; a tiny lending library full of books.

It’s clearly a well-loved effort, but it seemed a bit sad when we visited. Dirt packed with lots of holes and minimal shade. There is a small dirt bike area next to the park, a picnic table, and some cool sculptures.

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DeLaveaga Park

Delaveaga Park ViewDeLaveaga Park has trails galore but sorry pup, only an eighth of a mile of the nearly 4 ½ miles of trails can be sans leash. Five trails cater to joggers, mountain bikers and dogs. The Branciforte Creek trail is a favorite, partially following a creek and with a steep climb to a rewarding view at the disc golf area.  As of 2014, an enclosed dog park has been added near the parking area at the off-leash trail section entrance.

Dogs are welcome on-leash on the course as well as the lower park field, picnic and BBQ areas. No pups in the ball field or playground. Poop bags are donated by the public but don’t rely on them being there.

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Frederick Street Park

Frederick Street ParkThis grassy park in the Seabright neighborhood has an easygoing neighborhood feel. Make sure your pup listens when called as the dog area isn’t enclosed.

Places he should be back on leash include the paved trails, picnic area, playground and small skate park. You’ll find leaflets with this and other rules.

We love this park in part because it’s a great jumping off point to head down to the harbor or continue to the Arana Gulch trails, Seabright State Beach or stop eat at dog-friendly Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant.

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Grant Street Park

Grant Street Park Dog AreaThe partially enclosed off-leash dog area is set back behind the restrooms. A little hill with trees in the center makes for a fun obstacle course.

There is a playground, baseball field and picnic grills but pups are warned to stay clear of these areas. Unfortunately though well-kept, the park feels a little unsafe. The homeless can be found sleeping here, and suspicious-looking people wander through. Rangers do patrol the area on bicycle.

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Mimi De Marta Park

Mimi De Marta Dog ParkThis dog park opened in 2013 and sits along Broadway near Laurel Street.  It’s a convenient location if you’re willing to put up with some noise and exhaust.  It’s nicely situated to head out and wander on-leash along the San Lorenzo River trails or head downtown where after a 35-year ban, dogs are now allowed on Pacific Avenue.

The park is completely enclosed and the public makes a solid effort at donating poop bags. There are spaces for 4 cars and nearby street parking.

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Mitchell’s Cove Beach

Mitchell's Cove

Mitchell’s Cove is the only beach in Santa Cruz County where pups are legal off-leash but only before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm. This is a small beach just west of the more popular, but not legal off-leash, Lighthouse State Beach (Its Beach).

It can get crowded here on nice days and weekends, and since it’s a relatively small beach there isn’t a lot of room to play once the tide comes in.

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Ocean View Park

Ocean View Park Santa CruzThis park makes up for its small size with views and tranquility. Sit high above East Cliff Drive for a zen moment, taking in views of the San Lorenzo River, the ocean and the Boardwalk while your pup rolls and plays in the grass behind you.

Distant sounds of laughter and screams from the Boardwalk rides intermix with closer sounds of kids playing on the awesome park playground slides. People shoot hoops at the half court. Check out the artwork at the path heading down to East Cliff, or set out on-leash exploring the upper neighborhood, one of Santa Cruz’s oldest, full of massive Victorian homes and grounds. Public provided poop bags are plentiful.

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Pacheco Dog Park

Pacheco Dog Park Santa CruzThis is a very small, completely enclosed wood chip dog park not far from DeLavaega Park. Sort of tucked away near the hill, not many people know about it, but it could be a good place to go to if you live close by and want to get some quick pup play in, providing any friends can be found here.

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Skypark Dog Park

Skypark Dog Park Scotts Valley

If you find yourself in Scotts Valley, this a great place for people and pups to socialize. You’ll find one and a half acres of enclosed small and large dog park. Chairs, toys, pooper scooper, hose, wading pool, dog bowls and poop bags are donated at this park. No trees but locals put up a tent shade sometimes. Grounds are wood chip and dirt.

Adjacent you’ll find a grassy park, playground, basketball court and skate park. This place has a real communal feel and it’s not unusual to find social circles even in the middle of the workweek.

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University Terrace Park

University TerraceThis park is tucked away near UCSC. It has a good-sized hill area for pups to run and play off-leash and a short trail loop to follow. If your pup wanders, he may find himself roaming the pathway along the unenclosed side. Here, hikers and bikers traverse between university territory and Mission Street. Feel free to explore this extension on-leash.

The park also has a playground, basketball court and tennis courts. Donated water jugs and dog bowls are found at the picnic table. The public also contributes poop bags.  A word of caution, there have been numerous coyote sightings in the evenings and early mornings.

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Off-Leash Locations

See more from these off-leash locations in the slideshow below:


Places Dogs are Allowed to Exercise On-Leash

Santa Cruz County is a wonderful place to own a dog. There are a fair amount of challenges though, if you plan on taking your dog into any State Park areas. Plan ahead and review a trail map to see which areas are dog-friendly, and which are not. Regardless, you’ll find plenty of great trails and beaches that welcome your dog.

–Sierra Robbins, See Spot Run, Owner

Beer Can Beach, Rio Del Mar

Beer Can Beach, Aptos

A little more hidden than Hidden Beach is its neighbor, Beer Can Beach. Despite the name, we didn’t find any beer cans here. What we did find is a beautiful wide beach with views for miles up and down the coast.

This beach has a real relaxed attitude where you’ll find, quite simply, dog people.  Trash cans line the beach and birds are grateful they don’t have lids. Hope you don’t mind a bit of scattered trash around…birds have no manners.

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Davenport Beach, Davenport

Davenport Beach / Sharks Tooth BeachGrab a yummy pastry from Whale City Bakery then head across the street to park in the dirt lot. Take the trail on the left with dirt stairs over the railroad tracks and up again and follow the trail left down to the beach. Pup’s paradise!

This secluded beach can get a bit windy. It’s a popular bonfire beach and sadly there tends to be a bit of trash left.

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Floral Park, Santa Cruz

Floral Park, 38th Ave Santa CruzSure Pleasure Point has the beach and promenade, but it’s also got this cute neighborhood park.

The park is set up nicely for pup play with an almost completely enclosed grass lawn with palm trees and benches. A fence separates the park from the playground.

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The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Aptos

Nisene Marks for DogsPay attention!

Pups are only allowed on-leash in these areas: along the entrance road, the picnic areas, and, saving the best for last, they can go on the forested trail following Aptos Creek.

Your pup will be sure to show you the way to get down to the creek to cool off or get a drink.

Park behind Epicenter Cycling by the dirt bike course, or near the train tracks at Soquel Drive, and walk in if you ant to avoid the park fee. Be prepared for about a mile and a half walk in. You can also drive into the park and pay to park there.

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Henry Cowell State Park, Felton

Henry Cowell MapThis awesome redwood park is just a quick drive up Highway 9 or Graham Hill Road from Santa Cruz. It is split between the upper Fall Creek Unit, which says no to pups, and the lower Redwoods State Park, where happy hiking pups are allowed on the following trails: including Pipeline Road, Graham Hill Trail, and Meadow Trail.

Pipeline Road is the longest of the dog-friendly trails. A little over three miles, a portion of it runs along the San Lorenzo River then heads up to ocean views. The downside to this “trail” is it’s a wide, paved path. This park also says yea to pups in picnic and campground areas. Pay to park in the park, or save a buck and park on the street.

Want more? You can easily walk over to the bordering Roaring Camp Railroads where your pup is welcome both on the grounds and on a train ride, with the conductor’s approval.

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Hidden Beach, Aptos

Hidden Beach Park, AptosThe name fits! Most people find themselves here by venturing far south from Rio Del Mar Beach. But there’s an easier way to get here via Hidden Beach Playground.

This beach and its neighbor even further south, Beer Can Beach, is where most dog people “in the know” flock to. There are lots of dog people and dogs here. It’s a great place to exercise, socialize or just relax with your pup.

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Lighthouse Field State Beach, aka Its Beach or Dog Beach

Dog Beach (Its Beach) Santa CruzIf you didn’t know better, you would have thought for sure this was an off-leash beach.  Google Maps even has it labeled as “Dog Beach.” This is a dog social mecca, and at any given day you’ll find dogs swimming, playing and fetching.

It used to be off-leash but not since the state reclaimed it from the city. “Its Beach,” as locals call it, curves with views of the lighthouse and Seal Rock. You’ll want to take a picture at sunset of the rock arch on one side. A gentle pool forms just under the arch for calmer water pup swims. Check out the tide pools on the other side of the arch at low tide.

The park continues across the street. Lots of trails here to walk your pup on-leash.  Poop bags are provided at many places along the trails and at the beach entrance the public is nice to donate them. Park in a small lot across the street or in the lot at the lighthouse. On busy days, try parking across the field and walk through the trails over to the beach.

This area is also a great place to explore the pathway along West Cliff Drive.  Whichever direction you go affords you fab vistas. Make sure you have your pup on a tight leash as cyclists and joggers also share this popular path.

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Live Oak Beaches, Santa Cruz

Live Oak dog beachesThis is the name typically given to the beach area stretching from 20th  to 26th Avenues in front of Corcoran Lagoon.  Similar to Its Beach on the westside, this is the eastside’s go-to beach dog haven.

Also technically on-leash, it’s not unusual to spot many on this side of town, too, taking that ticket risk. Local “dogvocates” would very much like to have the 20th Avenue spot become legally off-leash, but so far the county hasn’t allowed it.

Poop bags and trash cans are provided at the end of 20th and 21st Avenues and near the lagoon. There are parking spots west of the lagoon. Note, this area requires a resident parking permit in the summertime before 5:00 pm.

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Loch Lomond, Felton

Loch LomandWho knew this existed?! Open from March through Labor Day, this doggie jackpot boasts a large lake and 12 miles of pup-friendly trails. Follow the mostly flat section of the Loch Trail along the lake or, if you’re feeling adventurous, continue on as it climbs up for a great view downward.

Pay to park at the park store and pick up a map. Want to relax? The Loch’s got you covered. Several benches, picnic tables and docks here for lounging. You can also paddle board or fish here. No pups in or on the lake though.  Signs here warn the hills are mountain lion territory, and ticks may want to hitch a ride so take precautions.

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Manresa State Beach, Watsonville

Beach, trail and Manresa Uplands Campground are good to go for dogs on-leash. The beach seems almost as wide as it is long. Surfing and fishing are also popular here.  Restrooms and outdoor showers are available. For day use, there is a paid parking lot or free street parking.

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Moran Lake Park & Beach, Santa Cruz

Moran Lake ParkYou and your pup are free to hit the park trail on-leash. Eucalyptus trees circle around this lake, a bird’s paradise. At trail’s end, you’ll find yourself at Moran Beach, connecting to another pup favorite, the Live Oak Beaches. Rinse off at the Moran outdoor shower area.

Another option from the lake trail is to continue up to the Pleasure Point promenade. Take the dirt trail shortcut that’ll keep you off the road for part of the way.

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New Brighton State Beach, Capitola

New Brighton State Beach MapMost people and their pups come here to camp, but dogs are also welcome on-leash on the beach. Pay the day use fee and park.

Grab your sunscreen and set out on the aptly named Beach Trail to get you where you want to be. There are restrooms and showers. Get your stroll on and wander over to neighboring Seacliff Beach, also friendly to pups.

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Pleasure Point Beach, Santa Cruz

Pleasure Point
Check out one of Santa Cruz’s famous surf spots with pup in toe. Hold on tight while he races down one of the stairways to the beach. It’s expansive but it separates at high tide.

No worries, just switch gears to walking along the promenade above. Plenty of vantage points here to spot the surfing action while your pup makes friends passing by.  Another nearby option is Floral Park on 38th Avenue.

Restrooms and a shower rinse are at the parking lot. The lot tends to get very crowded. On the street, a residential street permit is needed during high season.

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Rio Del Mar State Beach, Rio Del Mar

Rio Del Mar BeachThis beach stretches far and wide and connects to several other beaches, most pup-friendly. Possibly more of a hit with dog owners is the walking path along the beach. Here, pups parade back and forth.

Nearby is the Pixie Deli where you can grab a sandwich or some ice cream or venture over to Café Rio.  They have a pup-friendly patio and dog bones on the menu.  Can we get a woof, woof?!

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Seabright State Beach, Santa Cruz

Seabright BeachSeabright has a super dog feel.  Plenty of areas here for you and your pup to explore, whether walking along the beach, the pathway to the lighthouse, the walkway along the harbor or dining at nearby dog-friendly Aldo’s or Seabright Brewery.

The sunsets at Seabright are top-notch. You’ll find a few parking spaces at the end of 3rd Avenue or near the Restrooms at beach level on the street.

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Seacliff State Beach, Aptos

Seacliff BeachThere is a large grassy area with trails at the paid parking lot but the real action as at the promenade below.

Take the stairwell down or park at the Rio Del Mar parking lot (free) at beach level and walk over.

Have some pup time on the wharf and gawk at the cement ship.

A walk along the promenade will lead you to the Seacliff Center RV Park, which can be entertaining for both you and your pup.  You’ll likely find several dog owners, some with creative outdoor dog houses and dressed up doggies.

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Sunny Cove Beach, Santa Cruz

Sunny Cove BeachThis lesser known beach is pretty secluded with a water inlet that gets pup approval. The narrow cove goes deep into the cliff. Take a steep trail down to the beach. Back up top, park yourself on the bench and witness the waves crash against the rocks.

Residential street parking permits are required in high season so plan to unload and park further away where the permit program is not in place.

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Twin Lakes State Beach, Santa Cruz

Twin Lakes BeachLarge groups love this beach. Here, you’ll have a great vantage point of the boating activity coming in and out of the harbor. It’s also known for bonfire parties. We know your pup would love you all the same, but given other options this probably wouldn’t be his first choice beach.

There are outdoor showers at the restroom area. There is a stairway down to the beach at 12th Avenue or minimal parking along the beach between 8th and 9th Avenue.

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On-Leash Locations

See more from these on-leash locations in the slideshow below:


Places Dogs ARE NOT Allowed

Santa Cruz is an ideal place for a dog. Nature, great climate, great people, everything we enjoy as well.  It rates extremely poorly for designated beach off-leash recreation.

– Karen Simmons, Friends of Lighthouse Field, Chair

  • Capitola City Beach, Capitola
  • Coast Dairies/Panther Beach, Santa Cruz
  • Cowell Beach, Santa Cruz
  • Fall Creek Unit, Felton
  • Laurel Park, Santa Cruz
  • Main Beach (Boardwalk Beach), Santa Cruz
  • Moore Creek Reserve, Santa Cruz
  • Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz (not allowed on the beach or trails; allowed in the parking lot & picnic areas)
  • San Lorenzo Park, Santa Cruz
  • Scott Creek, Davenport
  • The Wharf at The Boardwalk, Santa Cruz
  • Waddell Beach, Davenport
  • Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz

 


Secret Dog Spots We Almost Don’t Want to Tell You About

As a newcomer to Santa Cruz, my dogs and I have found so much joy exploring and discovering the multitude of hidden gems here to exercise and frolic. There is so much right beneath our noses that we wouldn’t find without venturing off the beaten path every now and then.

– Lauren Ball, Dog Owner

While many of the spots listed below aren’t exactly secrets, these are the ones that aren’t likely to show up on other lists of dog-friendly destinations in Santa Cruz.

Anna Jean Cummings Park, Soquel

Blue Ball ParkAKA, “Blue Ball Park,” giant blue balls dot the hillside between the playground and the upper fields.  This 95-acre park has lots of options for your pup.  A large green grass field circled by a jogging path has the backdrop of a steep trail leading to the O’Neill Ranch Open Space Reserve.

Here, you’ll find trails, ocean views and nearby farmhouses. The park has a playground at the first level and soccer field midlevel. Pups are technically supposed to be on-leash in both the park and the reserve.

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Arana Gulch, Santa Cruz

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This 63-acre trailed greenbelt gets overshadowed by the more well-known Santa Cruz Harbor paths but probably not for long. It’s getting a facelift, after which there will be paved paths and footbridges connecting to the harbor area.

Feeling adventurous?  Head down the harbor and go up the stairs to Frederick Street Park’s dog park or head onto the beach. Arana Gulch can be accessed from the Upper Harbor or via Agnes Street.  Your pup needs to stay on-leash here.

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Byrne-Milliron Forrest

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Part of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, this gem is situated in Corralitos up a one-lane road from the Roses of Yesterday and Today. 402 acres of redwood and mixed hardwood forest contain 10 miles of trails and roads for hikers and their on- leash dogs.

There are two great view points within the trail system offering picturesque views of the Monterey Bay. Stop and relax at AJ’S point of View or Porcupine Hollow. Great care has gone into making these areas an enjoyable place for pooches and their people with water jugs and bowls left out and mailboxes full of native bird and fauna information charts and visitor logs. Chairs and benches are situated in sun and in shade. Lots of decorative items have been lovingly placed about.

Portions of the trails are dusty and hot in the direct sun. Other portions are in dense forest with lots of shade. We love the variety and we bet your dogs will too. The easiest way to find this secret spot is to follow Roses of Yesterday and Today on Google Maps and then pass the rose gardens up the one-lane road to the Byrn-Milliron Forest parking lot.


Chaminade Trails, Santa Cruz

Chaminade Hiking Trail, Santa CruzYou don’t have to be a guest at the fancy Chaminade Resort to use their trail system.  The Red Trail, Blue Trail and Green Trail all a get you and your pup a forest fix with a few moderate climbs.

The Red and Blue Trail meet up outside the gate at Santa Cruz Gardens Park. Here you’ll find a huge grassy-sloped lawn, a playground and picnic table. Dogs are allowed in all these areas on-leash. It’s a great, quiet escape.

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Greyhound Rock County Park, Davenport

Greyhound Rock BeachBlink and you’ll miss it.

There is only an inconspicuous sign stating coastal access. The beach requires a bit of a commitment with a long hike down from the parking lot and picnic tables.

Trust us, it’s worth it for the amazing views of the beach and the giant rock island. We love this coarse sand beach stretching far for a good walk.

Check the tides before coming here. Much of the beach gets pretty covered at higher tide. It can also get windy, especially on the western beach. The waves are super powerful so if your dog is a swimmer, probably best to keep him on-leash.

You may see some naked bodies here but this isn’t officially a nude beach.

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Land of the Medicine Buddha Trails, Soquel

Land of the Medicine Buddha Dog Blessing SignThis Buddhist retreat seems to be a word of mouth discovery. Privately owned, in typical Buddhist fashion, they happily share their trails with you and your pup.  Choose between a 2-mile easy walk called The Trail of 8 Verses, or a 6.5 mile loop with more climbs.

The 8 Verses has lots of surprises along the way: a prayer wheel, bells, gongs, prayer flags, signs with teachings, benches and even a section of trail dedicated to dogs.  A sign states, “Special blessings for dogs by following the Stupa Path.”

The longer, Enchanted Trail has a hollowed out tree shrine.  Check out the items people have relinquished over time or contribute your own.  The trail has a connector trail to the West Ridge Trail in The Forest of Nisene Marks, if you want to make your hike a bit longer, though dogs are not allowed once you get to the Nisene Marks area.

Trails throughout the Land of the Medicine Buddha aren’t marked for the most part and there are several forks along the way so we suggest getting a map from the Visitor’s Center or study up as people have posted tips on the internet.

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Pogonip, Santa Cruz

Pogonip Hike with Dog, Santa CruzWe’re not sure why this vast open area doesn’t show up on many city dog guides.  By all means, bring the pup!

You guys can explore 9 out of the 15 trails here.  Leashes required, and with good reason, there have been mountain lion sightings.  Pups would probably give the Spring Trail four paws up.  It’s the longest and widest of the trails.  Lots of room to wag your stuff.

Treasure hunt these: lime kiln ruins, the rock art garden, koi pond and the old Clubhouse, used for several movies including the cult classic, The Lost Boys.

There are two ways to enter the park – one at Spring Street and one at Golf Club Drive.

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Schwan Lake Park, Santa Cruz

Schwan Lake, Santa CruzSchwan Lagoon sits behind the Twin Lakes State Beach and just beyond that there is a little known area to run or walk your dog.

One and a half miles of oak tree lined trails peek over the lagoon in places.  It’s a nice shady escape from the beach.

Beware, there is poison oak here, but if you stick to the trails you’ll be fine.  Access the park behind the Simpkins Family Swim Center.

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Seymour Marine Center Walkabout

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Important Update: This was a dog-friendly location at the time we originally published this post, but as of June 1, 2015, dogs have been banned from this location. Dog owners protested the policy change, but in the end it was ruled that pups would no longer be able to roam the paths behind the Seymour Center.


Westlake Park, Santa Cruz

Shilo at Westlake ParkThe ducks and geese have no problem finding this park but we seem to.

This quiet park with a small lake is tucked away in an upper Westside neighborhood, not far from Pogonip and UCSC.

One side has a large grassy meadow and the other has a narrow grass-lined trail.  The lake is surrounded with benches and trees.

Fishing is allowed at the lake with humorous age restrictions.  Sorry, if you’re not under 16 years or over 65, you must go elsewhere to fish.

The park also has a playground and picnic benches.

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Watsonville Wetlands Trails, Watsonville

Watsonville WetlandsVenture a bit out of town to miles and miles of a trail system zigzagging around three sloughs.  Your leashed pup is good to go here.

Pick up a map at the Watsonville  Nature Center and begin your journey.  If you’re a fan of birds, you’ll find lots of them here.  Pack some water as shade is limited and this is one place where the sun surely shines.

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Secret Dog Spots

See more images from these secret spots in the slideshow below:

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About Keri Robinson

Keri Robinson has grown up coming to Santa Cruz and is proud to have made it her permanent residence as of 2011. She is a writer and blogger, active within the community. When not adventuring with her dog, kayaking, climbing or running she can be found at a local coffee shop, chronicling her adventures. Check out Keri's personal site to see more of her work.

Comments

  1. I found this to be a beautifully photographed and brilliantly written article. It’s obvious the author is very familiar with the needs of a dog owner and she draws your attention to the issues that concern all of us who have dogs. I’m sure people will be amazed at the variety and number of beautiful places to visit in the Santa Cruz area. either with or without a pet.

    I wish Keri could be convinced to do a similar article for other parts of the Bay Area because what she has to offer is invaluable. Congratulations on a wonderful piece.

  2. Jennifer Jigalin says:

    Whenever we visit Santa Cruz with our two dogs we are unsure of where we are allowed to bring them. I am definitely bookmarking the link to this article so we can plan our next trip. Thanks Keri!

  3. Nicole L says:

    Thanks for this informative post! It’s great to know exactly where I can take my dog!

  4. Geoffrey W. Robinson says:

    I think this is a great article – very well researched and designed. I thought the location descriptions including available features and photos were very nicely done. I’ll bet Shilo had great fun helping to illustrate this article.

  5. I feel as if I’ve been on a beautiful adventure among the parks, beaches, and trails of Santa Cruz and its suburbs. Wonderful photos and clear, charming descriptions. I love the little icons for park features (grass, restrooms, garbage cans, etc). I also loved seeing Shilo (author Keri Robinson’s dog) in many of the photos. She’s a happy girl, and so are her friends. Congratulations on a wonderful contribution to benefit dog owners in our area!

  6. Myrna Sherman says:

    Check out the beautiful state of the art dog parks in Watsinville, at Franich park (Wagoner and east lake ).

  7. Shila Patel says:

    Great article! Super informative. Lots of places I didn’t even know about. Can’t wait to take my pups 🙂

  8. Chris Hollstein says:

    Excellent article/resource for us Bay Area dog owners and definitely interested in taking my dog to some of these places I have never heard about.

  9. Brett Robinson says:

    What a great, informative article for all the dog lovers out there! So good that you’re getting the word out about the lack of areas dogs can be off leash in Santa Cruz. I was surprised how limited it is being that there’s such an animal loving population out there. Hopefully efforts like yours can bring some much needed change:)
    Awesome, helpful info.

  10. Michael A. Lewis says:

    As you see from this article, there are many places to let your dogs play off-leash in Santa Cruz County, some fenced, some unfenced.

    County beaches are not appropriate places for off-leash dogs because they are sensitive habitat regulated by County, state and federal regulations. Since there are so many places in the area for off-leash dogs, please keep your dogs on-leash on the beach and leave beach habitat undisturbed for wildlife.

    • lori bayle says:

      So as you say county beaches are not appro…blah….well are the dogs worse than the homeless, or the crackheads or the drunks, or the litter??? How does that affect the habitat?! Get your facts straight-you and your partner need to get a life and let people who are responsible and their beautiful resuce dogs be. For over 20 years we all co-existed stop the madness or move to a bubble with your “current” habitat of the month!

  11. GzyOnline says:

    My fiance & I are headed to Santa Cruz this weekend with our 3 lb Pomeranian to enjoy the beach.. After reading this article I’m a bit worried.. Can I take our dog to any beach as long as she’s leashed?

  12. Hi,

    would you mind if I referenced different pages of your website like the beaches page on my blog or website (and cite the author and link to your site)? Thank you.

  13. Let’s make it happen: more Off-Leash legal beaches in Santa Cruz County.
    Please sign our online petition:
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/advocate-off-leash-hours-for-dogs-at-live-oak-beach-in-santa-cruz-county/

    -LOOLA
    ‘A Shared Beach For ALL To Enjoy’

  14. Paul Bacon says:

    This was a great article, and of course it brought the leash police to chastise dog owners. Let them hug trees and leave their neighbors alone and quit tattling on them…. 🙂

    I have lived in Santa Cruz for 25 years and there were even a couple spots I didn’t know about. The hidden gems were especially awesome and I promise to share Shwann Lake which is half a block from my house and a great place to dog walk. We call it Pony park, because when I first moved here, we saw people in our neighborhood that had horses and they would go for a ride to Pony Park right past my house. The name has always stuck for my family.

    And beware of coyotes in Pony Park and Arana Gulch. They can be heard howling at night to each other, and I have seen them more readily in the last couple years, so be careful of small dogs, so they don’t get snatched. Also true of many other spots listed, but these two are right in Live Oak and many people wouldn’t think it a hazard.

  15. Alberto says:

    …….I have nothing againts dogs……but……there a lot of irresponsible dog owners……taking their dogs off-leash into the trails/mountains…….I am a mountain runner and I have been approached a lot by dogs that are off-leash….and it is very irritating…….”dogs are animal and as such their behavior is very unpredictable “……..and it really bothers me……..when an IRRESPONSIBLE dog owners……says to me…….”The dog is friendly”……..it may be friendly……..but…….it is an ANIMAL……

    Promoting “DOGS OFF LEASH”…….is an irresponsible civil act……. Dogs should be ON LEASH…..in public areas……for nobody knows for sure……how they may react……..at some particular point…….DOGS ARE ANIMALS……..and they can bite……and seriously injured a person…….

    iT IS YOUR DOG…….KEEP IT……….WITH YOU…….

  16. Great article Keri! Could you tell me where the cover photo for this article was taken? It looks like such an interesting place to explore!

    • Hi Sam,
      Apologies for the delay in response. The area shown in the image at the top of the post is off of Olive Springs Road in Soquel where Soquel Creek and Hinckley Creek meet (forms a small swimming pool when there’s enough water). This was originally included in our “Secret Spots” section, but there was some debate as to whether access to this location was partially private land or not and whether the public can have access. Because of the uncertainty, we removed the section for the time being.

  17. I just got a dog and then I freaked out remembering that not all places allow pups! Thank you so much for this awesome, easy-to-use collection of locations & tips. I can’t wait to explore!

  18. Concerned Citizen says:

    Can you please replace the photos of the ON-leash dog areas with ones that DON’T show obviously OFF-leash dogs, and thereby promote such behavior?

  19. Thank you for all of this very useful information as I am venturing for a week to Santa Cruz with my family and dogs for the holidays. I use to live there but I don’t know all the secret spots. Much appreciated!! – Kathy

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