We were just looking around over at LocalSantaCruz.com and saw on there weather page that it is an absolutely beautiful day on the Santa Cruz Harbor Cam.
Santa Cruz is absolutely beautiful any time of the year, but there are always those perfect days that remind you that we have access to some of the most beautiful parks and nature anywhere in the world.
There is that one single boat, a lonely beachcomber and that warm inviting sun amidst the crisp morning air. You know what, I’ve probably thought about it enough, now it’s time to head down for some sun and a Bloody Mary at the Crow’s Nest. I will see you there!]]>
There is much more to Frederick Street Park than a jungle gym to let the little ones run around on, although it has an excellent play area. Oddly enough, you can find Frederick Street Park on Frederick Street off of Soquel between Capitola Road and Seabright Avenue. It is a fairly large and safe, clean park located in the midst of a nice residential area.
Santa Cruz County does a great job of maintaining this park; the attendants come nearly every day to do a cleaning sweep and are constantly polishing the place up. There is a short trail that circles around the park if you’re in the mood for a leisurely walk. Bring a dog if you have one or can borrow one, because they recently added a fenced in off-leash dog area. Also, here is an underground spot to set up a Volley ball game when all the ones at the beach are taken. There are plenty of benches for birthday parties, lunches, or just sitting and relaxing. The Jungle Gym is a good size and has all the basic features, including slides and swings. A second play area for younger children is available to ensure their safety. One of the more unique features of the park is a small bike, scooter, or skating area. Its best feature by far however, is the lovely, peaceful view of the Santa Cruz Harbor, complete with stairs leading down to it. Many people have added the stairs to their running route, and you’ll see them pass through often.
There is always something going on at this park, from happy dogs running around, to birthday parties, or even larping (which is quite entertaining to watch if you’ve never witnessed it.) In any case Frederick Street Park provides plenty of ways for people of all ages to enjoy themselves.]]>
Do you ever need a quick trip out of Santa Cruz County either to get away away from tourists or just to simply get a different view. If you are wanting to switch it up a bit and travel North instead of South Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a great destination point. Located about 30 miles North of Santa Cruz, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is an iconic landmark that was built in 1871 and stands at an amazing 115ft tall. The lighthouse is still an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation using a 24 inch Aero Beacon.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a well known destination for many visiting the California Coast and a popular spot for professional photographers. If you decide to spend part of your day traveling to this lighthouse be sure to come equipped with a camera or at the very least a phone that has photo capability. You will definitely want to come home with a few photos to show off to your family and friends or maybe just to post on your Facebook or Instagram.
Don’t forget to pack some warm clothes, even on a sunny day Pigeon Point can get quite windy. While out there keep an eye out for marine mammals, such as seals and whales while visiting Pigeon Point, they can be seen regularly from shore as they pass by beyond the surf.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is open publicly for day use 8am-Sunset. Guided half-hour history walks of the lighthouse grounds are available 10:00a.m. – 4:00p.m. Fridays through Mondays, except on rainy days. Next time you are looking to get out of Santa Cruz, grab the family and head up North a bit. The drive is full of amazing scenic coastal views and there are several beach spots to stop at along the way if you are wanting to take a nice walk on the beach.]]>
Ano Nuevo means “new year” in Spanish, so my new years resolution has been to explore Ano Nuevo State Park, just north of Santa Cruz. It has trails, a beach as well as guided Elephant Seal tours during breeding season, however I like thinking of Ano Nuevo as a year round local nature destination!
Do you have a lizard at home that feeds on crickets? Well Ano Nuevo will be a pet lizard owners dream come true. At night before going to sleep I hear a choir of crickets going off, so I’m sure these little lizards have their hands and cheeks full. Abundant rabbits provide food for the coyotes and wild cats such as bobcats and Mt. Lions.
Dogs are not allowed at this state park, in joke I would say its because a Mountain Lion might eat a small pet, but in reality it has to do with more important issues such as protecting near endangered wildlife at Ano Nuevo such as the San Francisco Garter Snake or American Badgers.
The poison oak thrives near certain trails here so be aware of everything you touch. I got some poison oak on my arm when photographing a butterfly and it was a good reminder I stand in the shadow of the powerful flaming bush known as poison oak.
Just behind the waves, A family of Harbor seals swam by (adult parents and a pup). Further out about 100 meters I witnessed a movement of dozens of California Sea Lions swimming north. These are big mammals that have smooth hips and are distinguished from a sighting of a dolphin swimming by, mostly because they are missing the triangular dorsal fin. These are definitely the mermaids of the seas, pushing along and cutting through seabirds plunge feeding. I enjoyed watching how sleek the water rolls of their thick dark brown fur.
The Elephant Seal season is at the end of winter where tour guides refereed to as “docents” walk you to safe viewing areas of new born seals. Hearing about the Ohlone native people who used to inhabit Ano Nuevo reminded me of how we inhabit the same area in modern times. In the sand there are still relics such as arrowheads and ancient tools. During the summer although some areas are still restricted, Ano Nuevo trails and beach are still accessible, as I mentioned earlier this is a year round destination that wont let you down!
Ano Nuevo State Park is just a few miles north of Santa Cruz. Being so close to us and having so many layers of ocean and land to experience, it fits into any quick trip out of Santa Cruz or urban life and into our local wonderful state park!
8 foot tall bush of poison oak with thousands of berries:
You are looking at the mightiest poison oak bush I have ever stood in front of, I came home with a poison oak rash because there were thousands of poison oak berries being shaken by the wind, speaking to me to get out of there quick. You might ask why these bushes still stand and the answer is that local wildlife sustain themselves on the berries.]]>
Your chance to spot hundreds of seals off the Santa Cruz Coast.
Every weekend could be a nature weekend here in Santa Cruz. Wilder Ranch State Park offers a diverse selection of wild life, both marine and land based. The park has a main loop trail which takes you from the parking lot and around the coastal cliffs. Brown pelicans fly over giving you a hypnotic air show. Seabirds nesting along the sandy cliffs enjoy our Santa Cruz sunset on the ocean horizon. If your lucky you’ll notice dolphins or migrating grey whales beyond the waves, dolphins you’ll recognize as they swim in pods of less than a dozen with their dorsal fins poking just above water. Whales such as migrating Grey Whales are easily recognized by their spout which mushroom sprinkles above the surface. There is also seaside farms with all sorts of vegetables and fruit growing in the adjacent plots for the farmer inside all of us.
Make sure to bring your sunblock because there is no shade on this hike. This is a easy nature loop that is a few miles long. There is benches to sit and rest at along the way. Wilder Ranch is a few miles north of downtown Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coastal Highway and ready for your visit!
This picture shows a Harbor Seal colony with over 100 harbor seals you’ll be able to watch when you arrive to the coastal cliff.
Article by Guest Author, David Cruz]]>