For a sweet sampler of mountain-bike rides with coastal views, head to Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz. With over 30 miles of well-marked trails, this former dairy farm is a destination for mountain bikers of all abilities.
Beginners and casual riders can take the wide and easy Bluffs Ride, a 4-mile (one-way) cliffside path that leads to several beaches including a fern grotto. For mountain bikers who want some ups and downs with sections of swooping singletrack, point the wheels inland to the grassy hills and redwood forests of the Wilder Ranch Loop and Englesman Loop trails. More experienced riders can whoop it up on toothpick-tight trails like Old Cabin, Wild Boar, and Zane Gray Cutoff. With so much variety, bikers can create a route all their own. That's fat!
The Route Wilder Ranch is north of Santa Cruz, immediately west of Highway 1, about a mile past the Western Drive stoplight. There are plenty of loop options with multiple linking trails, so riders should pick up a map at the visitor center before heading up either the Wilder Ranch Loop or Englesman Loop trails (sports stores and bike shops in town also have maps.) Sometimes the trails are closed after a heavy rain. Call the park at 831-423-9703 to check.