Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz

4.6
#2 of 21 in Parks in Santa Cruz
Wilder Ranch State Park is a California State Park on the Pacific Ocean coast north of Santa Cruz, California. The park was formerly a dairy ranch, and many of the ranch buildings have been restored for use as a museum. There are no campgrounds; a day-use parking lot provides access to the museum. Dogs are prohibited on the trails, but many trails allow bikes and/or horses. The long trails and ocean views make the area a favorite of hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. Public beaches continue to the north in Coast Dairies State Park.
The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolà expedition, followed the coast in this area on its way north, camping at today's Majors Creek (now the northern park boundary) on October 18, 1769. On its way through today's Santa Cruz County, the explorers bestowed a few important names which survive today: Pajaro River, San Lorenzo River and Santa Cruz. On the return journey to San Diego, the party camped at the same spot on November 21. Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi noted in his diary the difficulty of moving along this part of the coast: "The road on this march was very troublesome, on account of the frequent gulches along the way."
When Mission Santa Cruz was established in 1791, the area became part of the mission pasture lands. Secularization of the missions in 1834 divided the mission lands into large land grants called "ranchos". Wilder Ranch was part of Rancho Refugio, a Mexican land grant of 1839. Historic buildings include part of the adobe rancho house built around that time by rancho grantee Jose Bolcoff.
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Wilder Ranch State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
247 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • We were visiting relatives in Morgan Hill and were taken out to Wilder Ranch. We had a great picnic at a table near the ranch houses and then met Jean, one of the volunteers and previously a worker at...  more »
  • Go under Hwy 1 using the tunnel and you are off to a great MTB adventure. The standard trails are good for beginners but you can get as technical as you want. Old Cabin, Mailboxes, all the UC rides......  more »
Google
  • Excellent place to hike, see classic California scenery with ocean, waves and cliffs. Coastal trail is very kid and bike friendly. It’s very easy and enjoyable. Parking is $10 unless you park along the highway and walk over. There are restrooms and water fountain. Views are gorgeous.
  • Excellent hiking along the ocean with a lot of wildlife to see along the way. Also, has quite a few events throughout the year located at the historic building areas and around the horses. Large loop trails provide lots of beautiful views.

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