Santa Cruz Explorer

July 7 -11, 2024
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5 days/4 nights

Rating: Moderate

Max Capacity: 20

$1100 Member Price

$1150 Non-Member Price

While you walk, unencumbered with nothing more than water, a jacket and sandwich, you will see the varied rural beauty of Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties. Each day will offer a different experience. The historic Santa Cruz boardwalk and roller coaster on the beach, is only half an hour away.  All other hikes are closer to the beautiful Costanoa campground where we will be tent camping at the back of the campground.

The hikes on this walk are not in the hills. From the campground you can walk to the ocean and into the hills at your leisure. One of the many highlights of our time together will be our hike on the new Cotoni- Coast Dairies National Monument with its String of Pearl coves.

We will gather as a group to take you to Waddell Creek, where the Skyline to the Sea trail ends at a large beautiful beach, and will lead you to see the remarkable regeneration from the CZU fire. Wilder Ranch – with its one-of-a-kind Fern Grotto- takes you on the bluffs. Año Nuevo State Park, famous for the Elephant Seals, is also just a short walk away.

We look forward to hiking with you, providing your food and entertainment and continuing the legacy of Coastwalk: the most interesting people, hiking, sharing and reliving all their hiking experiences in the counties along their beloved California Coast.

Camping Fees and All Meals Included.


Coastwalkers will have the opportunity to explore the rural beauty of Northern Santa Cruz & Southern San Mateo Counties. Each day’s hike will offer a different and unique experience.  On this Coastwalk you’ll be tent camping at the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA an eco-adventure resort designed to encourage guests to explore the stunning beauty of the protected California coastline. This KOA has many amenities for it’s guests from dry saunas to bike rentals and more!  The Costanoa KOA strives to develop programs and methods to reinforce its uncompromising commitment to the environment. From the Campground you can see the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which is just three miles north. One of the highlights of this Coastwalk will be a hike on the new Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument with its string of pearl coves.

Sample Itinerary*

Please note this Itinerary is subject to change due to weather and tidal conditions.


Day 1: On your arrival after set up at 2pm, explore Pigeon Point Lighthouse.  While under construction, their grounds have beautiful paths, tidepools, and nearly Wilber’s Watch (1 mile hike) allowing you to see an expanse of the Santa Cruz and San Mateo Coast.

 Day 2: Choose from two tours, do both or, just sleep in!

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center and Younger Lagoon will provide tours of their beautiful and interesting site, explaining their research through UC Santa Cruz.  We will then walk to the museum of the Monarch Butterflies. The Monarchs who will have flown away in July – but the videos and information are amazing.  We take a walk down West Cliff Drive past the surfing museum, lighthouse and classic surfer viewing spots.  Stop for a refreshment in the hotel now standing where O’Neill Surfwear got its start. The day ends at the beach with a stint at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with its historic wooden rollercoaster. Shuttle back to camp.

Please reach out to Coastwalks Walk Coordinator at [email protected] if you would like to participate in one or both of these tours. You can also reach the Walks Coordinator by calling the Coastwalk office at 707-829-6689 ext. 1

  Day 3: We will walk part way up the path to Big Basin State Park which is recovering from the CZU fire and witness the incredible regrowth.   This is also where Waddell Creek enters the ocean and is a beautiful place to walk and play.

Day 4: we will hike Wilder Ranch’s beautiful fern grotto and bluffs, then will also have the option of hiking into the hills to the east.  Costanoa’s grounds also offer trails into the hills.

Day 5: On the last day we have the option to go to Año Nuevo State Park, possibly entering from the North’s beautiful little trail, accessed from the campground.  Otherwise, it is a few minutes south by car.

The Coastwalk ends after lunch when we wind up camp and go on our way! Until Next Time!



Jacket – (wind and water resistant)

Long pants

Hiking shorts

Hiking boots

Walking shoes


Long Sleeve shirt



Tee shirt


Bandanna, handkerchief


Soap or body wash, Bio based/biodegradable



Dental floss

Daily Medications and vitamins

Shampoo, bio based/biodegradable


Insect repellent

Comb or brush

Towel and wash cloth

Personnel first aid items

Sleep wear

Poncho or rain gear

Camping gear

Tent, with footprint (pad underneath tent to keep your tent dry)

Sleeping bag with pad

Plate, bowl, cup, knife, fork and spoon

Cloth napkin

Tupperware container, for leftovers

Flashlight or head lamp

Small Folding chair/ camp chair

Day pack

Canteen, hydration pack or 2 water bottles, 1 liter minimum each


Breakfast and Lunch food if desired.

The Chuckwagon will provide milk, almond milk, coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper, oatmeal, butter, fresh fruit and bread, nut butters and other sandwich fixings.

 Nice to have



Hiking poles

Walk Leader – Julie Groves

Julie Groves is a long time Coastwalk and CCT advocate. Julie began going on Coastwalks with her parents, Bill & Lucy Kortum and as an adult she brought her children on many Coastwalks.

Julie is an Occupational Therapist who lives in Los Gatos, California.


Walk Leader – Patti Pope

Patti Pope is a long time Coastwalk member and has been on numerous Coastwalks. Patti’s children grew up on going to on Coastwalks and now grown adults, joined Patti on the 2022 San Luis Obispo Classic and signed up to become Coastwalk volunteers. Coastwalk is looking forward to the next generation of volunteers.

Patti is an educator who lives in Woodside, California