Day 1-2: Meet in San Jose. Shuttle to the beachside Wilder Ranch State, a historic site edging Santa Cruz, California. Cruise the countryside and drink in sea air on the Eucalyptus Bike Loop, through coastal scrubs and open grasslands. After riding the coastal cliffs above the Pacific, shuttle to Fort Ord National Monument (home of the world-famous Sea Otter Classic mountain bike festival). Big ring it through 28-miles of velvety, even-keel singletrack; then its beach-time decompression.
Day 3-4: Shuttle to Soquel Demonstration State Forest. Full day devoted to purpose-built mountain bike trails. The evening unfolds in downtown Santa Cruz. Our finale takes us to El Corte Madera State Park: a full day of riding splendor amongst giant Redwoods. Shuttle back to San Jose.
Nicknamed “Surf City”, Santa Cruz’s identity ranges from a college town, distinctive for its thriving counterculture, to big Redwood-groves, omnipresent greenbelts, and barking sea lions.
Our trip leans towards organic farms, the flourishing artisanal beer and wine scene, as well as long stretches of free spirited, primo singletrack. Wilder Ranch State Park, a 700-acre coast hugging preserve, boasts beautiful trails amongst Brussels sprout fields and towering Redwoods. Respectfully built around a 19th century dairy ranch, Gothic Revival farmhouses and a Victorian residence, Wilder Ranch is as much about cultural moorings as it is easy-on-the-eyes pastoral. From regal structures to beachcombing, big bluffs to inland canyons, we explore it all; places that come with their own informal history lesson.
From offbeat tolerant Santa Cruz, we head in a figuratively far different direction. At the Monterrey Bay beachfront, we find the immaculately groomed Fort Ord. It was here that over one million U.S servicemen trained from 1917-1944. As Wilder Ranch served as the opening act, the thick forest and cornucopia of trails we find at the “playground” in Soquel Demonstration State Park will flat-out steal the show.
From Mexican land grant turned logging company reserve turned state forest (1988), the Soquel Demo is now the Bay Area’s number one mountain bike park. The 19-signature trails here total 27-miles: they range from the advanced Braille DH (with bypasses) to six different Flow Trails, (think more intermediate). The highest trail reaches 2558-ft; conversely the down hills total 14-miles of distance. That’s a lot of whoop.
From 40,000-acres of lush coastal preserves to great spans of giant Redwoods, “Cool” Santa Cruz to the rich literary history around Monterrey, this plum-riding destination energies and harmonic resonances is unlike any other Escape Adventure.