16 March 2007

Wilder Ranch - Santa Cruz Mtn Biking

If you begin at the Hwy1 parking just north of SANTA CRUZ, go over the cattle grates, pass the farm and the bridge and climb up Engelsmann. There are two Engelsmann trails at a Y with great signage and mileage. The trail to the left will connect you with Wild Boar to continue up to your next connection. The Engelsmann to the right is an easier grade. It's a sweeping bow to the right, uphill, around the more direct route on the left (which is a slightly steeper grade).

Either way, you arrive at the intersection to take Old Cabin Trail. This is sweet singletrack of pine needles and speed. It's not marked one-way, but it should be ridden one-way. After a shallow descent in the forest and a quick & shallow climb, a fleeting moment of perfect, flowy singletrack carries the cyclist... and the trail dips across the creek and up -continually- until you emerge from the forest, and will make a T-intersection with a fireroad called Eucalyptus Loop.
Turn right and climb up to the benches at the Euc Grove. Gaze over the treetops at the infinity edge pool that is the Pacific Ocean.

With the ocean on your left shoulder, continue the same direction on Euc Loop on a gravel over a fireroad downhill at 25+ in the ///loose gravel/// and at the bottom, shoot straight into the bushes on the Enchanted Loop trail. The final option from the fireroad before it merges with an old asphalt road and goes uphill, is a singletrack that Ys off to the right, straight into a clearing in the brush. It's safe.

With low sunlight, amber lenses are recommended here.
This trail soon emerges into the ///bright open/// on a chalky-rocky-dirty continuation of Enchanted Loop toward the Pacific, then a singletrack veers right, straight into the brush again. Amber lenses are recommended here. This trail and Old Cabin are the best legal parts of Wilder. Not as flowy here, more stairsteps and some technical with a climb out into the ///bright open/// after the stream crossing. Challenging climb in mud.

Next T or Y intersection, stay left and downhill.
(There's a brass medallion geological marker on a bluff if you climb right and uphill.) So, left and slightly DH, take the southern link of Wilder Ridge trail to Zane Grey to Old Dairy trail: a sandy hardpack section of a singletrack that develops into a killer 18" wide sandy pinball channel of ///loose sand/// and takes you to a hardpack fire road sometimes puddles, sometimes grass patches, called Wilder Ridge Loop where you cycle toward the coast and sweep left downhill, then make a right hand u-turn at the horse stables that you'll now recognize.


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