Santa Cruz County offers a plethora of dog-friendly hiking options that allow you and your furry companion to explore the scenic beauty of the area. From redwood forests to coastal trails, here are the top 10 dog-friendly hikes in Santa Cruz County that are sure to get those tails wagging!
10. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park offers a 6-mile paved trail called the Pipeline Trail. This picturesque route takes you through majestic redwood trees, alongside the San Lorenzo River, and even under an active train trestle. Other favorite trails in the park include the Meadow Trail, Graham Hill Trail, and Powder Mill Fire Road. Dogs must remain on a leash, and a parking fee of $10 applies.
9. The Forest of Nisene Marks
If your pup enjoys creek crossings and lush forests, the Forest of Nisene Marks is a great choice. Dogs on leashes are allowed on the Aptos Creek Fire Road and four single-track trails, including the Vienna Woods Trail, which features stunning scenery with wildflowers, mushrooms, and a serene creek. Access to certain areas is restricted during winter. Parking is $10.
8. West Glenwood Open Space Preserve
With approximately four miles of trails, West Glenwood Preserve offers breathtaking valley views and a variety of loop options. The rolling hills are adorned with vibrant wildflowers during the spring season. Remember to follow one-way trail signs and be prepared for sun exposure, as shade can be limited on warm days.
7. Lodato Trail
Nestled in the redwoods of Scotts Valley, Lodato Trail is a hidden gem for a forested adventure. The 1.2-mile trail takes you through uphill sections, offering a peaceful and scenic experience. Leashed dogs are welcome, but watch out for poison oak along narrow segments of the trail. Parking is free.
6. Byrne-Milliron Forest
The Byrne-Milliron Forest covers 402 acres of dog-friendly hiking trails, including the 2.5-mile Byrne Trail to A.J.’s Point. As you explore the forest, keep an eye out for unique sculptures created by the late Jeff Helmer. The Great White loop, spanning 3 miles, leads you to a towering Great White Redwood tree.
5. Roaring Camp Railroads
Adjacent to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Roaring Camp Railroads allows leashed dogs to explore the forested land and trails. For an extraordinary experience, you and your well-behaved pooch can even board the steam train together. Parking is $10.
4. Pogonip Open Space
Pogonip Open Space offers miles of dog-friendly trails and hidden treasures. Follow the Rincon Trail from the UCSC campus to the eastbound Spring Box Trail for an easy downhill stroll leading to a captivating spring-fed koi pond beneath a redwood tree. Protect this unique spot by ensuring your pup doesn’t disturb the pond. Check the trail map for more dog-friendly options.
3. Pinto Lake County Park
Situated in Watsonville, Pinto Lake County Park provides 183 acres of space for you and your pup to roam. Enjoy the lake, fishing pier, baseball and soccer fields, playgrounds, trails, dog park, and disc golf course. Take the Art Hike Challenge to discover scattered murals along the park’s hiking trails and open spaces.
2. Loch Lomond:
While swimming is prohibited in the reservoir, Loch Lomond offers 12 miles of surrounding trails with stunning redwood vistas. Explore the trails and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area with your furry friend by your side.
1. Watsonville Wetlands
The Watsonville City Trails wind through 800 acres of freshwater wetlands, providing over seven miles of walking paths for leashed dogs. Experience the beauty of this unique ecosystem and enjoy a leisurely stroll with your canine companion.
Get ready to embark on memorable adventures with your beloved dog as you explore these fantastic dog-friendly hikes in Santa Cruz County. Remember to adhere to trail regulations, keep your dog leashed, and always clean up after them.