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Hike, Bike and Ride the Santa Cruz Mountains

Explore Redwood Forests, Rolling Grasslands, and Rocky Ridgelines

Crisscrossing the Santa Cruz mountains are miles of trails offering opportunities for hikers, bikers and horseback riders to experience the coast redwoods up close in some of the best Bay Area parks. Many of these trails were created thanks to Sempervirens Fund supporters, like the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, to help you explore deeper into the redwood forests and diverse terrain of the Santa Cruz mountains. You can travel through serene woods, across picturesque grasslands and along rocky ridgelines connecting public parks and other protected lands in the region.

Whether you enjoy leisurely strolls through the forest, riding down steep hillsides or backpacking through remote areas, come explore the Santa Cruz mountains for some of the best Bay Area trails!

NOTE: Due to winter storms and the recovery efforts from the 2020 wildfires, many parks may be closed or access may be limited. Whenever possible, consider how you can recreate responsibly and always check park websites for the latest information on available amenities, access, or closures.

Most of Big Basin and Butano State Parks and Skyline-to-Sea Trail are closed. You can donate to Big Basin's Future Fund and help California State Parks with Reimagining Big Basin and keep connected with progress to re-open these parks and trails.

Plan Your Activity


Top 10 Redwood Trails

The best places to see redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains.

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Wildflowers After Wildfire

A guide to rare and special plants in the Santa Cruz mountains

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Accessible Trails

27 accessible trails in the Santa Cruz mountains.

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Birds and Birding

An introductory guide for the Santa Cruz mountains.

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Everlasting Vistas

For great views check out our curated AllTrails list.

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Fall and Winter Hikes

Trails to enjoy the changing seasons.

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Bay Area Ridge Trail

Trek the San Francisco Bay to Peninsula section.

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El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve

Tafoni Trail

Rare sandstone formations and redwoods at El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve.

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explore nature and leave it be

Exploring Nature and Leaving It Be

Tips for protecting and enjoying nature, and helping slow climate change.

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Camp and Backpack


  • National Geographic’s map of the Santa Cruz Mountains has trails, campgrounds, detailed topography, park access points, roads, hundreds of points of interest and much more. To survive years of adventuring, it’s waterproof, tear-proof and useful.
  • Sempervirens Fund trail Map 1 includes the entire network of trails connecting Castle Rock, Big Basin Redwoods, and Portola Redwoods State Parks.
  • Sempervirens Fund trail Map 2 includes Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Butano Redwoods State Park, Año Nuevo State Reserve, and all internal and connecting trails.

Call us at (650) 949-1453 to order a map today!


  • Best Short Hikes in Redwood National and State Parks including Humboldt State Park by Jerry and Gisela Rohde. Mountaineers Books, 2004. Hikes throughout northern California are detailed in this guide book.
  • The Santa Cruz Mountain Trail Book by Tom Taber. Publisher’s Group West, 2002. This guide, a long-time favorite, includes information about local history, geology, and camping as well as biking and equine trail access.
  • Peninsula Trails by Jean Rusmore, Betsy Crowder, and Frances Spangle. Wilderness Press, 2000. This trail guide covers walks in parks and trails along the Bay, in the foothills and mountains, the forests of southwest San Mateo County, the parks and beaches along its coast, and routes leading to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
  • Southbay Trails by Jean Rusmore, Betsy Crowder, and Frances Spangle. Wilderness Press, 2001. Many Santa Cruz mountains redwood hikes are included in this trail guide that ranges from the Diablo Range to the Pacific Ocean. Hikes are clearly described with simple maps and black and white photographs.
  • Bay Area Ridge Trail By Elizabeth Byers & Jean Rusmore. Wilderness Press, 2019. The fully updated official guide to the 375-mile route that spans nine counties and provides easy access to hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding across oak-studded grasslands and through tranquil forests.


It takes many people to help protect, restore, and connect the Santa Cruz mountains for us, wildlife and future generations to enjoy. From trail work to office work, we’d love to have your help! Check out our Volunteer page.

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Goal: $124,000 by June 30

Double your impact protecting redwoods! Every dollar counts towards safeguarding these majestic giants. Act now to ensure a thriving future for our redwood forests.

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