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Where to Go Biking in Santa Cruz
Health & Fitness

Where to Go Biking in Santa Cruz

Time to ride, ride, ride your bike. With the ocean breeze blowing through your hair, biking in Santa Cruz hardly feels like working out.

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5 min read

October 17, 2021

Do you remember the golden days when you’d ride, ride, ride your bike with your neighborhood pals? Simpler times… Nowadays, most people associate biking with either working out or commuting to work. Thankfully, we’re in Santa Cruz and we don’t belong to either of those parties. Surf City boasts some of the best trails in the state—oceanside paths and mountain tracks expose you to an unseen side of this coastal city. With the ocean breeze blowing through your hair, biking in Santa Cruz hardly feels like working out, especially when massive redwoods provide lots of shade. 

It's time you pumped up your tires, researched the best trails in your area, and started going for spins.

1. West Cliff Drive Bicycle Path

Location: West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
Parking: Free parking is available at Lighthouse Field State Beach and Swanton Boulevard
Level of difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.4 miles
Route: Out and back

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Cycling on the West Cliff Drive Bicycle Path is a quintessential Santa Cruz experience. This fairly flat paved path starts at the Santa Cruz Riverwalk and ends at the picturesque Natural Bridges State Park. But it’s neither the start nor the endpoint of the trail that make this one of the best bike rides you’ll ever go on. The famous boardwalk and wharf are two attractions you’ll come across on the way. And since Santa Cruz is one of the best surf towns in the nation, it’s only normal for you to pass by Steamer Beach, an iconic spot to ride the waves. With dramatic cliffs and ocean views painting the backdrop, this bike path in Santa Cruz will make you cycle more often. 

Almost every time you go out for a ride—whether it be in your neighborhood or on a trail that leads you through a state park—you take a photo.

2. Emma McCrary Trail

Location: Pogonip Open Space Preserve, Santa Cruz
Parking: On-street parking west of Highway 9
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2 miles
Route: Out and back

The Emma McCrary Trail has cyclists swearing it’s one of the best rides on the Central Coast. This mountain bike trail in Santa Cruz features beautiful lush groves and tall redwood trees; it’s accessible for cyclists of all skill levels. What makes this trail unique is that despite the ride upwards being fun, the descent is even better—the way down is very flowy with several nicely bermed sections that make the ride a lot more enjoyable. 

First, we bike. Then, we eat all the s'mores. Our happiest hours include a sunset and a bike. Is it time for our post-work bike ride, yet?

3. Demo Forest Flow Trail 

Location: Soquel Demonstration State Forest, Soquel
Parking: Free in the parking area on Highland Way
Level of difficulty: Difficult 
Distance: 14.1 miles
Route: Loop 

We’re all familiar with the Santa Cruz Flow Trail—the popular bike path joins six different segments to create one of the most scenic and challenging tracks ever. The strenuous trail could get overwhelming pretty quickly, especially during the elevation changes if you’re a beginner. But don’t let that discourage you from riding on perhaps the most iconic bike paths ever. Point your bike downhill and cycle through the berms, whoops, and pumps galore. We promise that the Santa Cruz Demo Trail is an adventure you simply cannot miss out on

4. Wilder Ridge Loop Trail

Location: Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz
Parking: Available at Wilder Ranch Day Use Parking for $10
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 7.7 miles
Route: Loop

Considered one of the best bike trails in California, Wilder Ridge Loop Trail is probably the most rewarding. While this Santa Cruz biking trail features short steep sections, it’s easy to manage even if you’re a novice. However, if you’re up for a challenge, the trail is a connector route, giving you access to the Enchanted Loop Trail for more experienced riders. The best part about cycling on this path is when the coastal vistas emerge almost halfway through the ride, and the views keep getting better as you reach the top. 

They say you never forget how to ride a bike. Let's find out if that's true. Can we not go up any gigantic hills? Thanks.

5. Enchanted Loop Trail

Location: Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz
Parking: Free parking at the park entrance
Level of difficulty: Moderate 
Distance: 5.1 miles
Route: Loop

Heavily shaded by gigantic redwoods, the Enchanted Loop Trail shuts out the light enough to keep you cool as the path gets trickier. As you advance the path, you come across a deep descent, which gets narrower and more zig-zaggy by the minute. But that’s not all—this Santa Cruz biking trail has a few sharp turns and more than just a few rocky drops. We don’t mean to freak you out; we’re just excited to let you know what California’s best mountain biking trails are like. Grab your bike now and experience an adrenaline rush like never before.

What are two things you can say on a bike ride and a Zoom meeting? "Alright, everyone. Let's shift gears."

6. Braille Trail

Location: Soquel Demonstration State Forest, Santa Cruz
Parking: Free in the parking area on Highland Way
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1.5 miles
Route: Loop

The Braille Trail is a short yet slightly challenging bike path—and did we mention fun? The otherwise smooth trail has a few surprises along the way; you’ll encounter a few ramps, roots, skinny bridges, and steep descents that could slow you down. But one thing you don’t have to worry about is getting dehydrated under the sun; this trail is entirely enclosed under redwood trees. Whether you choose to check out the trail with friends or solo, this will be one of the coolest biking experiences in Santa Cruz you’ll ever have.

Good vibes and great bikes will get you anywhere. Does it get any better than biking with your best friends?

7. La Corona Trail

Location: DeLaveaga Park, Santa Cruz
Parking: Free parking at the park entrance
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.6 miles
Route: Loop

Don’t be alarmed by the name of this trail; the only thing contagious about it is the excitement you’ll experience along the way. The La Corona Trail is a fun dog-friendly bike path with gorgeous views all over. If you’re an avid bird watcher, you’re also in for a treat—this trail is the ideal place to spot acorn woodpeckers, song sparrows, mourning doves, and violet-green swallows. But wait, there’s more. Kids are also able to use this trail to go on nature trips. Basically, if you want to teach your children how to ride a bike, the La Corona Trail might just be the most scenic choice. 

Have you given any of these Santa Cruz trails a try? Let us know which one is your go-to.

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