CA Coastal Treasures for the MTB: Part 1
Wilder Ranch SP is a polished gem well known to Santa Cruz mountain bikers. Locals flock here to take in the views, explore a variety of well-maintained trails, and to tend to the park. Wilder shares a symbiotic relationship with the mountain bikers of the community, as we fix up the trails, do our best not to ride when it’s raining, give way to horses, and in return, we are allowed on all of the trails!
Sitting in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and looking out at the Pacific Ocean after an arduous climb has no other comparison. Picnic tables are not hard to find at look out places and are perfect for the mountain biker who loves packing snacks and/or taking breaks to schmooze with other cyclists. Here you will meet both the thrill seekers who chase KOMs on singletrack down Zane Grey (2.5 miles), Enchanted Loop (1.8 miles), and Englesman (0.8 miles), and the old fashioned cross country mountain biker that loves the fire road which encompasses the park’s border, including the popular Bluff trail (flat 3-6 miles) that follows the coastline and crashing waves (see cover photo).
Speaking of, I usually end my ride with a loop around the Bluff trail to cool off in the salty breeze that the ocean provides, but to do so, you need to walk your bike through the historic ranch which has a charming picnic area if you’ve packed a cooler in your car. Signage, corralled horses, and distant happy cows will mark the spot. After passing through, you’ll head up the gated, paved road to the pay parking lot where the restrooms are located and make your way across the train tracks to the Bluffs.
Mountain biking enthusiasts of all backgrounds, avid hikers, and runners, horseback riders, and people who picnic at the historic Ranch all enjoy the area. Sadly, no puppy dogs allowed.
The 7,000 acre plot of land started like many other California destinations. The Ohlone Native Indians were the shepherds of the land, using and caring for it’s rich diversity of coastal plants and animals. Early on, American settlers pushed into the space and crafted it into a quaint dairy farm, which still remains there today thanks to Santa Cruz locals who voted to protect the land against a housing development in the 1970s.