Take a Hike! 2020 First Day Hikes in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz First Day Hikes 2018The New Year is knocking and 2019 is ready to take a hike out the door. But 2019 isn’t the only thing that should take a hike…so should you.

If you want to start the new year off fresh with a sense of renewal, exploring California State Parks on New Year’s Day could give you the perfect opportunity to do just that.

On New Year’s Day, close to 50 state parks will host over 60 different hikes and outings, with a chance to see your parks like never before.

Though the guided hikes and events are free, there is a $10 day use fee for parking in most parks. However, if you pay the day use fee in one park, it’s good at any state park for the remainder of that day until closing time. Maybe this will be a chance to go on more than one hike or do some park exploring of your own.

Below are a few of the First Day Hikes being offered in Santa Cruz County.

For information on times, meeting places and details about all of the First Day Hikes, check out the California State Parks website and the full list of local hikes (scroll down to the “Santa Cruz County” section).

Happy New Year and happy hiking!

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Buzzard’s Roost Hike

When: 1/1 at 9:00 am
Where: Big Basin Redwoods State Park Headquarters

If you are willing to get up early to join this hike led by not one, but two docents, you may get to see some of the furtive and elusive creatures that inhabit the trails of Big Basin, and I’m not talking about other hikers. This five-mile hike includes a steady ascent with an elevation gain of about 1200 feet.

Hike to Ocean View Summit

When: 1/1 at 10:00 am
Where: Big Basin Redwoods State Park Headquarters

This group hike will take you on a 6-mile loop up the Meteor Trail to Ocean View Summit, an elevation gain of 600 feet. Bring a lunch and plenty of water.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Fall Creek Hike

When: 1/1 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Where: Henry Cowell Redwood State Park Fall Creek Parking Lot

This very special offshoot of Henry Cowells has a lot of history to explore in addition to the beauty of the creekside trails. Learn about this fascinating spot on a docent led, four-mile, four-hour hike.

Natural Bridges

Bird Walk

When: 1/1 from 8:00 am to 10:00 am
Where: Natural Bridges State Beach

Greet the new year with awe and inspiration by joining a docent-led bird-watching hike. You might see hawks, waterfowl, songbirds and maybe even a woodpecker. Bring binoculars if you have them.

Habitat Hike

When: 1/1 from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm
Where: Natural Bridges State Beach

Did you know that there are five distinct habitats housing all kinds of critters at Natural Bridges? Delve into the mystery of all the nooks and crannies of this amazing park.

Wilder Ranch State Park

Englesman Loop Backcountry Hike

When: 1/1 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where: Wilder Ranch State Park

Did you know there is a whole other side to Wilder Ranch State Park? Across the road and up and down hills lies a beautiful and historical landscape that you can explore on this challenging seven-mile guided hike.

Año Nuevo State Park

Guided Elephant Seal Walks

When: 1/1 between 8:45 am and 2:45 pm
Where: Año Nuevo State Park

This moderate hike has big rewards, as you get up close and personal with some of the great marine beasts who call the currents and beaches of Santa Cruz home. This time of year, you might get to witness an epic battle between two males, or a little newborn pup being cared for by its mother. Reservations are strongly recommended.

About Meridith Cook

Meridith Cook came to Santa Cruz 18 years ago from Minnesota. She is a freelance writer and mother of 3 who enjoys exploring the beauty and culture of this unique community. Visit her website at www.melbacomms.com.