Santa Cruz Coastal Explorer

Santa Cruz Coastal Explorer

Santa Cruz Coastal Explorer

Santa Cruz Coastal Explorer

Santa Cruz Coastal Explorer

Santa Cruz Coastal Explorer

August 24-28, 2020

5 days/4 nights

Rating: Moderate

Max Capacity: 20

$675 Non-Member Price

$650 Coastwalk Member Price

Camp all four nights in the forested bluffs at New Brighton State Beach. Explore Wilder Ranch State Park and enjoy guided tours of a working dairy farm; an 1840 adobe; and a Victorian farmhouse.  Experience Coastal and mountain hikes through old growth redwoods and the 10-mile section of the well-known Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail. Explore sections of the Coastal Trail that take you to a monarch butterfly preserve, the Santa Cruz Wharf, the Surfing museum, and picturesque Capitola, California’s oldest seaside resort town. All meals provided.



The Santa Cruz Coastal Explorer will include a diverse series of hikes including a former dairy ranch situated next to the ocean, a backpack trail that starts in the Santa Cruz Mountains and ends at the beach, a monarch butterfly preserve, a paved trail on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean that passes numerous iconic Santa Cruz attractions such as the Boardwalk.  Other hikes will be sections of the California Coastal Trail with stops in the quaint beach town of Capitola, the Santa Cruz wharf, the surfing museum, and an old growth redwood grove.  We camp all four nights in the forested bluffs at New Brighton State Beach.

Food: Coffee (and decaf), juice, and milk will be available each morning, as well as a variety of breakfast and lunch foods. Soft drinks will be available each day to refresh you contingent on donations to the food kitty.

Dinners are provided each evening.

You will only need to carry lunch items, water and layers while hiking.

We will camp at New Brighton State Beach for all four nights.  New Brighton S.B. is located at 1500 Park Avenue, Capitola.  Phone (831) 464-6329.

There are a limited number of parking sites adjacent to the Group Camp sites, so you will likely have to park in the overflow lot which is close by so car pooling is encouraged.

Check-in time 2 o’clock.  Check-out time 12 o’clock.

Day 1 – Meet up, Set up camp, Hike Natural Bridges to Twin Lakes (5.2 miles)

Meet between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock at New Brighton State Beach (check-in time is 2 o’clock).  Unload our stuff, set up our tents and have a quick snack before starting our hike.  Due to the camp check-in time today’s hike will be a short one.  We start at Natural Bridges State Beach where we will see the monarch butterfly preserve.  Then we walk along West Cliff Drive, a paved promenade above the ocean. We visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and pass by the wharf, the famous Boardwalk, and a small craft harbor before arriving at Twin Lakes State Beach.  This hike is essentially the second half of Section 4 and the first part of Section 5 of the California Coastal and is an easy, flat trail that should take about two hours.

 Day 2 – Wilder Ranch State Park (approx. 10 miles)

 At Wilder Ranch we will have a docent tour of an old dairy farm, an 1840 adobe, and a Victorian farmhouse, followed by a coastal hike and a mountain hike through old growth redwoods.  The coastal hike is Section 3 of the California Coastal Trail.  Along this stretch of the coast, hidden pocket beaches are tucked between spectacular wave and wind-cut cliffs.

 Day 3 – Last Section of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail  (10 miles)

We will do a section of the well-known Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.  This is a popular trail for

backpackers who typically take three days to do the complete trail.  We will do the last section of the trail, starting in the mountains of Big Basin Redwoods State Park and ending at Waddell Beach.

 Day 4 – Twin Lakes State Beach to New Brighton S.B. (5 miles)

Section 5 of the California Coastal Trail.  Starting at Twin Lakes State Beach we follow East Cliff Drive for 5 miles until we arrive at the picturesque town of Capitola, California’s oldest seaside resort town.  Capitola is a very pretty town with lots of quaint shops, restaurants, and the iconic, brightly painted beach bungalows.  We will spend some time here taking in the sights before

continuing on to our campsite at New Brighton S.B.  In the afternoon we visit the UCSC Marine Lab.

 Day 5 – Seacliff and La Selva Beach Walk  (Section 6 of the CCT)

From our campsite at New Brighton we head south, walking on the sandy beaches of Seacliff and La Selva.  The campsite check-out time is 12 noon, so we will need to be back in time to have lunch, pack up our things, and say goodbye to our new friends.

  • Hiking shoes, boots or sturdy walking shoes
  • Waterproof sandals
  • Spare walking shoes & laces
  • Comfy camp shoes
  • Hiking poles
  • Water-proof windbreaker/ or parka for cold nights
  • Long pants and long sleeve shirt (protection against sunburn, poison oak, and bugs)
  • Layers for upper body
  • Hat for sun protection that ties under chin
  • Beanie for cold, windy conditions
  • Other clothing – underwear, T-shirts, lots of socks, etc.
  • Bandana
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Sunscreen (minimum 30 spf)
  • Natural bug repellant
  • Personal first aid kit (band aids, blister pads)
  • Personal medicines
  • Day pack
  • Plate, cup, bowl, and eating utensils
  • Sturdy Tupperware for leftovers
  • Flashlight & headlamp with new batteries
  • Spare batteries
  • Folding camp chair
  • Tent & Ground Cloth
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • REUSABLE Water Bottle
  • Trail snacks (power bars or jerky)
  • Credit Card & cash for camp showers and treats
  • Solar shower if there is no shower at campsite
  • Shower towel

What’s Included: 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided.


  • Coffee: (Regular in percolator with caffeine free available upon request), Teas, Cocoa, Juice, Milk (1/2 & 1/2, 2% Milk, Soy & Almond Milks)
  • Sweeteners- (sugar, honey)
  • Yogurt
  • Biscotti
  • Hot Cereals (Instant Oatmeal, and prepare it yourself steel cut oats available)
  • Granola
  • Walnuts or assorted nuts
  • Fruit (fresh)- (Blueberries, Bananas, Apples, Oranges / Cuties)
  • Fruit (dried)- Raisins & Craisins


  • Breads- (Multi Grail & Gluten Free)
  • Almond Butter
  • Fruit spreads
  • Cold Cuts
  • Cheeses (sliced)
  • Condiments, (Mustard, Mayonnaise)
  • Butter, (Regular and dairy free)


  • Dinners are included unless otherwise noted and will be provided by Coastwalk’s Volunteer Food Angels. 

Our Chuckwagon Wrangler will do their best to accommodate you but if you have special dietary needs please bring your food in a small cooler and we will be sure to provide you with ice throughout the trip.

David has been an avid hiker and backpacker since graduating from high school in 1970.  He has hiked many of the county, regional and state parks near his home in San Jose, and nearly every year he does a backpack trip in his beloved Sierra Nevada mountains or in the canyon lands of the Southwest.  For the last few years he has set his sights on hiking the California Coastal Trail, having completed the San Luis Obispo, Sonoma, & Mendocino Coastwalks. David has also been the Walk Leader for the San Mateo Coastwalk.





New Brighton State Beach:

Wilder Ranch State Park:

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum:

UCSC Marine Discovery Center: