Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Things To Do This Summer Series: Wilder Ranch State Park

It is gorgeous outside! Every year when summer really gets underway, I start to brainstorm. I start making a list of all the things I want to accomplish before September: visit the Monterey Bay aquarium, wine tasting in Paso Robles, a visit to the city (that means San Francisco to Northern Californians) and a lot of aimless bike riding in cute little silk dresses. I think my list is pretty good, but I'm always open for suggestions. BAM! Thats where inspiration hit me.

I'm starting my very first blog series. A legit one, with contributors and everything. I've asked some of my favorite adventurous people to write reviews on their favorite things to do in the summer. I'm calling it the "Things To Do This Summer Series". Maybe it will help you spruce up your summer to do list.

Today is the first installment in the series and it was written by my dear friend Ann. Ann is the one who introduced Jake and I a few years back and she is always down for an adventure.



Wilder Ranch State Park

1401 Coast Road, Santa Cruz

(831) 423-9703

Cost: $8 per car - day use fee

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Seagulls

I love many things in life, but during the summertime, I love the sun and adventure. Lucky for me, California is well positioned to provide large amounts of both. The summer of 2008 was, to say the least, an adventure and my favorite summer by far. During those fateful two and a half months I was a summer camp counselor for teens ages 12-16, in a tent-camping program in the Santa Cruz - central coast area. For five and a half days out of the week, we drove up and down the central coast finding new beaches, taking surfing lessons, and going on as many adventures as possible. One of these adventures led me to discover Fern del Grotto beach at Wilder Ranch State Park, which is just north of Santa Cruz on historical (and beautiful) Highway 1.

Wilder Ranch is a State Park with many different adventures and trails, but the crown jewel is the coastal trail, which leads to one of my favorite places on Earth - Fern del Grotto beach. If you’re a cyclist, a runner, or just want to go on a nice walk with your love, this is the weekend activity for you! The coastal trail takes you from the parking lot, across some old railroad tracks, through a field, and sooner than later you’ll find yourself looking over the ocean and a beautiful closed beach, which serves as a bird sanctuary. Before you start out on your journey, make sure to use the restroom - once you’re on the trail you’ll be left to your own devices!

As you follow the trail, you’ll come within inches of cliffs which drop-off into the great Pacific Ocean, birds who are feeding and nesting, and the occasional cyclist or runner using the trail for some serene exercise. After about a mile of meandering along the clifftops, you’ll look down and see a cove. If you break away from the beaten path and walk down into the cove (watch your footing) you’ll find yourself standing on the warm sand of Fern del Grotto beach, a secluded beach complete with two caves fit for exploring!

In 2008 I took my campers here for lunch and some afternoon beach football. For my purposes, the space allowed the boys to play football and the girls to suntan, all while I could sit back and keep an eye on everyone. If you’re a young family, this activity will certainly become a favorite adventure for your children! This photo doesn’t quite highlight the beautiful sand, which is lovely for laying on, but trust me - it’s definitely there! The marine life is prevalent, there’s always a breeze, and if you’re looking for an afternoon getaway, your book will be your best friend at Fern del Grotto.

1 comment:

  1. my friends and i always went to this beach in the past years... so this is it's official name. we always called it the "secret beach." it's so beautiful. the caves and the hike down are the best parts!