A Scotts Valley Surprise
Lodato Park
Neil Wiley

Here is a nice little hike only fifteen minutes or so away from us, and although I’ve lived here for fifty years, I didn’t know that it existed. It’s called the Lodato Park Loop Trail, and it hides behind an office-building parking lot at the end of Green Hills Road in Scotts Valley.

The trail takes you uphill on a gradual slope winding through a cool, redwood forest, complete with ferns and banana slugs, from the trailhead at 620-foot elevation to the top of the loop at 961 feet. The trail is mostly a single-track of packed dirt with a few areas of flat rock, intersected at two places by a paved road. At first, you can hear the traffic on Highway 17, but it is much quieter as you move deeper into the forest. It’s cool and feels damp, even before the winter rains.

I recommend turning right when you reach the loop, walking it counter-clockwise. In this way, you can save the left side of the loop for walking back down, because it is steeper, rockier, and appears less developed than the right. The right side of the loop is 0.5 miles; the left is 0.7 miles.

When you reach the top of the loop, the trail crosses a paved road. You can walk a short distance to the right on the road for an interesting view of Scotts Valley and the giant quarry, then return to the trail intersection for the return segment.
Although the trail is relatively short and the switchback grades are mild, the drop-offs are steep. If you are not sure-footed or are uncomfortable with heights, you may not like this hike. This is especially true after a rain when the hard-packed dirt and flat rocks are dangerously slippery.

If you haven’t visited Green Hills Road, finding the trailhead may prove more difficult than the hike. It is counter-intuitive, but you drive past the park all the way to Mt. Hermon Road where you turn right at the traffic light, than take the second right onto Glen Canyon Road, pass under Highway 17, then go left on Green Hills Road. Drive almost to the end of the road, just past an office building at 1800 Green Hills Road. Park near the back of the parking lot. You should see a large slab of wood identifying the trail and displaying a rough map of the loop. By this time, you’ll be ready to stop riding, and start hiking.

Dogs are welcome, but not horses or bicycles. The parking lot has lots of room and the parking is free. There are no water, bathrooms, or interpretive signs. The fifty-acre park is managed by City of Scotts Valley Recreation, 438-831-3251.

Lodato Park coordinates:
N37.0521705 by W122.0002391