We loved having my parents out visiting for the last week, and we all wanted to go do something fun on Saturday. We wanted to do a short-ish hike, and since my parents live in Virginia several hours from the ocean, we thought it would be nice to walk with some water views. There are lots of great spots for fun, easy Bay Area hiking, but I had Old Landing Cove Trail just north of Santa Cruz on my list, and it seemed like the perfect fit.
Bay Area Hiking: Old Landing Cove Trail
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We thought about parking on the highway with tons of other cars and walking the short walk up to the trail, but the ranger at the entrance dissuaded me by saying they’d had 3 smash-and-runs that week. So we coughed up the (very reasonable) $10 to park in the lot. I was worried it would be overcrowded on a beautiful Saturday, but we got there just after 3pm and there were people but it definitely didn’t feel overly busy.
The trail itself was relatively even and flat, making for an easy walk even for smallish kids (even our 3 year old had no trouble walking the whole trail on his own). If you go on a dry day like we did (so the ground isn’t muddy), you could probably take some sort of sturdy jogging stroller with big wheels on the trail, but since we just have a normal umbrella stroller, it was easy to stick the baby in the carrier and not worry about a stroller.
The whole loop is just shy of 2.5 miles round trip and rewards you with spectacular cliff/ocean views for about 2/3rds of the way. There are several viewpoints to stop and take photos, including lots with cliff views and a few where you can see seals sunning themselves on the rocks below. There are also several spots to walk down to various beaches. We went down to Fern Grotto Beach, which was a beautiful little cove. It was a bit chilly the day we went, but I imagine it would be lovely to stay and play/picnic on a warm day while out for some Bay Area hiking.
Overall, it was a perfect place to get out some wiggles with high reward for effort. Be careful to contain small kiddos as there are some pretty steep drops, but other than that, enjoy the gorgeous views of this easy Bay Area hike!