The Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains
Hike, Bike and Zipline through the Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains
By Jody Sidle
A highlight of any traveller’s California holiday must be a trip to see the ancient redwoods, and Santa Cruz is the perfect spot. I’ve spent several days in this charming California beach town, enjoying its breathtaking ocean views, watching the surfers for hours on end, and eating fresh, delicious seafood. Now, it’s time to head just a short distance to the lush forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to hike, bike and even zipline through the redwoods canopy.
Hiking and Biking at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Arriving at Henry Cowell Redwoods State park, I'm amazed to find that just minutes from the beach lies this beautiful, tranquil place bursting with vibrant autumn colours and wildlife. It is early, and the air is crisp as I begin my hike along one of the trails. I choose a loop that runs for about 3.2 km and I am immediately in awe. Standing about 87 meters high, the redwoods are so tall that I can barely see their tops! Some must be four meters wide, and I'm told that many are more than 1,800 years old. I literally climb inside a tree and stand up. It's incredible. Sunlight drifts down through the tree canopy and casts gentle lighting across my path just as three young deer pass by. Later, I ride my bike down a scenic trail, accompanied by birdsong.
Roaring Camp Railroads
Mid-morning, I head over to Roaring Camp Railroads, where a 19th-century steam train takes passengers through the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This, I have to do! Apparently, I’m not the only one thinking this way: The grounds at Roaring Camp are bustling with life. With its general store and old-fashioned train station, I feel like I’ve stepped back in time at Roaring Camp. As the train approaches and the engineer blows the horn, the faces of children and adults alike light up. I sit in an open-air caboose and enjoy the next hour-and-a-half as the train slowly takes us deep into the mountains. The early morning chill has given way to the sun that so frequently shines in Santa Cruz, a perfect morning!
Zipline Canopy Tour at Mount Hermon Conference Center
Following a pleasant sandwich from a local favourite, The Buttery Bakery, I am on my way to Mount Hermon Conference Center for a zipline canopy tour. I get fitted with safety equipment and go through a short training session with guides who are unbelievably helpful. I stand about 46 meters in the air, atop the first platform and, as I take off, I am surrounded by glorious redwoods amidst this lush green forest. As one of my fellow adventurers said, you can almost feel the energy the trees generate. The scenery is stunning from every angle: Below me runs a quiet stream and, above, birds converse in their own special way. The tour lasts about two hours and is marvelous – a must-do whilst in Santa Cruz!
To learn more about Santa Cruz and its exciting activities, please visit www.visitsantacruzca.co.uk.
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Official Santa Cruz Travel Information
When you goSee Redwoods
Santa Cruz may be known for its beautiful beaches, but experiencing one of their 14 state parks is a must. For the less adventurous, take a hike or bike through one of the many parks experiencing redwoods that are more than 1,800 years old. For those looking for an adventure, zipline through ancient Redwood trees 46 meters high.Eat Fresh
No trip to Santa Cruz would be complete without tasting all their fresh seafood. Caught daily when in-season, enjoy a tasty bite of some great local specialties.Family Time
Santa Cruz offers a variety of experiences for families. Roaring Camp Railroads offers kids and parents a chance to step back in time with its general store and old fashioned train station. Sit in an open-air caboose and enjoy the ride deep into the mountains.