You donít have to attend college to enjoy these
trails. Simply drive in on any weekend, park at the free North
Remote parking lot, and bike, walk, or run on miles of all-weather
trails. In the winter, the hard surfaces and gravel dry quickly. I
hiked the North Campus Loop one day after a big rain, and didnít
step in one mud hole. Itís good hiking in the summer, too, with lots
The North Campus Loop is a good place to start
your explorations. Itís only 3.1 miles around the loop and
relatively flat. The elevation runs from 810 to 1035 feet.
I saw many mountain bikers, a few runners, but
no hikers. Perhaps that is because the trail doesnít offer much
variety. It has many small redwoods and a few giants. I didnít see
any scenic views, any waterfalls, or any wildlife.
It is, however, amazingly quiet, even though it
is a short distance from the campus.
Getting there is half the fun. Drive down
Highway 17, then west and north on Highway 1 toward Half Moon Bay.
Turn right on Bay Drive. It becomes Coolidge, then McLaughlin. Turn
right on Heller. The road takes you into the North Remote parking
lot. This lot offers free parking on weekends. During the week,
youíll need a parking pass.
Driving up the hill to the campus presents great
views of Santa Cruz County and Monterey Bay. Itís worth a stop, but
watch out. The turnout is rough.
Hike or ride your bike to the far end of the
parking lot. Go left on the fire road called West Road. Do not turn
off this road to the left. (Itís a dead end.) Pass Fuel Break Road
and North Fuel Break Road on the right. When you reach the four
large tanks and Chinquapin Road, turn right. Turning left would take
you on a longer walk to Wilder Ranch. Turn right on Fuel Break Road,
and stay on this road. When it splits, take the left branch, which
is Fuel Break Road. Pass Red Hill Road, then turn left on West Road
back to the parking lot. Another option is to keep on Chinquapin to
the U-con trail that will take you to the next-door county park,
Pogonip. The trail offers some interesting views, old limekilns, and
more variety in scenery.
Some cautions. This is a bikerís trail. Be
alert, and stay to the right. Also, the signage is rather sparse on
the main trails, and nonexistent on the single tracks. Itís easy to
get lost. Whether you are walking or riding, I recommend getting
David and Allison Dillerís book
Mountain Biking Santa
Cruz or a detailed map.