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Bike Directory : Self-Guided Mountain Bike Rides

Santa Cruz Cruise
Santa Cruz, California


Elevation Gain:
Ride Distance:
Scenic Quality:

How to get there:

Take Highway 1 to the Seacliff Beach/Aptos exit. Follow State Beach Road north .25 mile to Soquel Drive and turn right. Continue .5 mile to Aptos Creek Road, turn left, and park at the turnout on the right past the railroad tracks.


The ride:

Ride #1 (18 MILES) Begin pedaling .8 mile up a paved road that turns into dirt for another 2.2 miles to Porter Family Picnic area. This is an excellent resting point for those desiring a more leisurely trip. Continue another .7 miles on the fire road to the Loma Prieta Mill site with remains of the old mill foundation and mill pond. From the mill site it is another .8 miles to Aptos Creek, where the road will begin to climb in earnest; those wishing to keep their ride easy will want to turn around here. At Aptos Creek, the road climbs 380 to 962 feet in about 1.5 miles, cresting atop China Ridge. Continue climbing at a more gradual pace approx. 3 miles to Sand Point Overlook and an elevation of 1600 feet. Enjoy the view from the best vantage point in the park with vistas of Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, UC Santa Cruz, and Ben Lomond Ridge. After you have rested, return the way you came. Be sure to stay to the right and control your speed. Ride #2 (24 MILES) Begin Ride #2 from the Sand Point Overlook. Bear left downhill to West Ridge Trail Camp, approximately .5 mile and 150 feet of elevation loss. Continue down on the Hinkley fire Road to the gate .9 miles from the trail camp. Watch out for multiple cross drainages that will bury your front wheel and introduce your face to a tree nearby. Hint: keep your weight over the back wheel and keep a relaxed grip on the handlebars. From the gate ride .2 miles to an intersection, where you will bear right. Pedal .3 miles to another intersection, where you will once again bear to the right. Notice the signs indicating private property. Please respect the owner's privacy. From here the ride goes through a series of three stream crossings that are guaranteed to wet your feet and bring a smile to your face. Continue .4 miles downhill to Olive Springs Road, where you will turn left past a small weight station. Ride 1.2 miles along a scenic and rural road to a left turn on Soquel-San Jose Road. Riders are reminded to use extreme caution due to heavy traffic. Soquel-San Jose Road will take you down to the intersection with Soquel Drive and the town of Soquel. Turn left on Soquel Drive and an easy 3.5-mile pedal back to the parking area and your car.


What to bring:

Bring plenty of water, food, and clothing for any weather conditions. Wear your helmet. Carry tools, spare tube, tire pump, patch kit, allen wrenches, chain tool, Shimano chain pin, tire irons, screw driver, spoke wrench, and small first aid kit. A water filter to refill your water bottle. Control your bicycle at all times, and descend under control. Always yield to hikers, llamas and horses. Never spook animals.


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