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Best of Wilder Ranch

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.3 (29) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

From high ridgetops, through redwood canyons to the Pacific Coast, this ride has it all.


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Map Key

16.6

Miles

26.7

KM

40%

Singletrack

924' 282 m

High

17' 5 m

Low

1,371' 418 m

Up

1,361' 415 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

19%

Max Grade (11°)

Dogs No Dogs

E-Bikes Allowed

Overview

This ride incorporates the variety of terrain and trails that Wilder Ranch State Park has to offer. Starting from the park headquarters and interpretive ranch center, the ride climbs into the foothills to the north in a big figure-8 loop using old ranch roads and much of the available singletrack. There's some challenging climbing, but with plenty of breaks and spots to take in the view and catch your breath.

After reaching the high point at the old Eucalyptus Grove, it's mostly downhill through a redwood canyon and then straight down an open ridge to the ocean. A refreshing ride along the ocean bluffs above the crashing waves brings you back to the start.

Need to Know

Restrooms are next to the fee parking area at the main park entrance. This ride can also be started at the Four Mile Beach area starting with the Ohlone Bluff Trail.

Description

A pedestrian tunnel under Highway 1 connects the historic Wilder Ranch compound to the Wilder Ridge Loop trailhead. Head north where, just past the rodeo arena on the right, the trail forks to the left then doubles back almost south before turning north again in a gradual climb. Just past an overgrown pond, the trail forks again with a singletrack branching to the left.

The Wilder Ridge Loop is a tale of two trails. From the trailhead straight up the ridge it's an old ranch road while the western and lower half of the loop is singletrack. This ride uses the singletrack section but for an easier ride option, or if the trails are muddy, continue on the road to the junction with the Twin Oaks trail.

Hanging left onto the singletrack trail, the Wilder Ridge Loop winds along the hillside contours with the only obstacles being eroded sections of trail. Again, avoid this section during wet weather. After twisting and turning for 1.7 miles you reach the junction with the Zane Grey Cutoff. Take this trail to the right (north).

Although the Zane Grey Cutoff is shown as a "short connector trail", this will be the longest 0.8 mile of this ride, as this singletrack steeply ascends back up to Wilder Ridge. It is "short" in the downhill direction. It's named after the prolific western novelist although most maps misspell the name using "Gray". Average grade is about 7% but just after crossing a gully, it climbs for a quarter-mile at 14%. Pedal or push till you reach a rockier section and the grade eases a bit until the junction with the Wilder Ridge Loop road.

Turn right (east) on the road and enjoy the view from all the elevation you just gained. In about a half-mile you reach an overlook with a picnic table. Continue to the junction with Twin Oaks trail. There's a short technical section at the beginning due to erosion but once you are past this and out of the trees, it's smooth sailing as this singletrack ascends gradually through open fields for a little over a mile. Keep left where a trail forks to the right and the trail ends at a paved road. Turn right and a bit downhill to the junction of the Eucalyptus Loop and Enchanted Loop.

This ride follows the Eucalyptus Loop going clockwise, so continue up the road with the old corral on the left and open field on the right. The grade is gradual with a few steeper rutted sections and about half-way up you emerge from the trees to a large open field. The old Eucalyptus Grove, a bunch of tall trees that appear to have been burnt in a wildfire, is at the top of the loop and provides some shade for a picnic area.

Done resting? Continue on the loop as it heads down along the edge of the field on the opposite side that you came up. After about a mile it dives into a forest of dark redwoods and narrows to singletrack. The only technical sections are at creek crossings. A few of these areas can use some trail improvements. Another mile, and you return to the Enchanted Loop junction.

The lower, more technical section of the Enchanted Loop is undergoing trail improvement work. Either direction can be used in this ride, but the easier clockwise direction is shown. Follow the singletrack to the left as it disappears into the trees then joins a doubletrack trail in a short distance. Follow this until the singletrack branches to the right to the intersection with the Baldwin Loop.

The Baldwin Loop is another tale of two trails, with the western section being mostly singletrack and the eastern half a fire road. On this ride you follow the singletrack all the way down to the coast over an open ridge top dropping steeply at times over loose rock until reaching some dilapidated barns and another pedestrian tunnel under the highway.

You emerge at Four Mile Beach where the Ohlone Bluff Trail winds along the coastline until returning to the start at Wilder Ranch.

History & Background

The cowboys are long gone but there are still a couple rock and sand quarries operating within the park boundaries and the flatlands along the coast are still farmed.

Contacts

Shared By:

Bob Gardner

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 29 votes

#1123

Overall
  3.3 from 29 votes
5 Star
24%
4 Star
24%
3 Star
21%
2 Star
24%
1 Star
7%
Recommended Route Rankings

#173

in California

#1,123

Overall
374 Views Last Month
20,888 Since Feb 1, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
59%
19%
22%
0%

Photos

the views are just phenomenal!! One of the most relaxing ride I've ever ridden! Photo by Dinno Domingo.
Jul 5, 2016 near Santa Cruz, CA
Last beach before we turned around
Apr 15, 2013 near Santa Cruz, CA
Sunset view
Apr 15, 2013 near Santa Cruz, CA
Jumping off the cliff?
Apr 15, 2013 near Santa Cruz, CA
The first cove and viewing spot at the start of trail
Feb 13, 2018 near Santa Cruz, CA
Wilder Ranch State Park - Enchanted Loop - Twin Oaks - Wilder Ridge
May 9, 2018 near Santa Cruz, CA

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Feb 20, 2021
Nick K
16.5mi — 2h 02m
Jan 31, 2021
James Bishop
Muddy - Eucalyptus Loop, Enchanted Loop, and Baldwin Trail to the highway were pretty rad! Went exoloring up Chinquapin to Woodcutter's Trail. 25mi — 3h 30m
Nov 25, 2020
Mary H
Oct 17, 2020
Vince Espo
Sep 26, 2020
Øystein Grøvlen
Aug 22, 2020
Morty Rudegar
Jul 13, 2020
Daniel Botello
May 16, 2020
Lee Hogan