Nov 132012

A big perk of homeschooling in Santa Cruz County is the variety of scenic hikes we can use for P.E. One of our favorites is Sunset Trail, in Quail Hollow County Park. It’s a hidden gem, rewarding hikers with fairy-tale views, and a sometimes steep, intermediate workout of 2.8 miles round trip.

Click here to learn more about Quail Hollow County Park.

Park at the ranch house. It once belonged to the family who owned Sunset Magazine!

We hiked along the Chaparral Loop to the lower end of Sunset Trail. This was the last we saw of the boys until we met them coming back down!

Sunset Trail takes us through a variety of vegetation. The lower part runs along a hillside that receives plenty of sunshine. It’s very sandy and dry. I think it could be home to the Mount Hermon June Beetle, an endangered species endemic to the Zayante Sandhills. I’m not sure if this area actually is part of those sandhills, but it looks suitable. We’re going to research the insect during the summer months, when it emerges from underground.

We’re so blessed with gorgeous scenery! The picture below was taken from the lower end of Sunset Trail.

Where the trail winds right, the habitat abruptly changes to cool redwood forest. A hiker with an ancient but determined Labrador offered to take our picture. He probably mistook us for tourists, seeing me take pictures right and left!

We took a break at the Boy Scouts bench, enjoying the view from about half way up.

The native madrone tree has vibrantly colored wood. The bark curls off, leaving a smooth surface. It glowed richly in the low sunlight!







My goofy girl in front of a stand of redwoods.

The guys on the way down, before we got to the top. What gives?!

Finally, the top!


And here’s the reward:

Told ya! Fairy-tale views! They remind me of scenes from a princess castle video game my daughter used to play.

I took so many more pictures I wish I could share with you. But this post would be too long; so you’ll have to go see it yourself!

The park hosts many educational activities for children. For younger children, consider the Meadow Loop. It’s a great, easy nature walk!

By Columba Lisa Smith