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A premium birding location, Elkhorn Slough offers miles of trails that wind through wetlands, oak-shaded meadows, and grasslands. Visit the old barn and learn the area’s dairy history. This is the perfect field trip for budding photographers, birders, naturalists, and families wanting shorter trail options for younger children. Located in Watsonville.
This is the northern end of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. 20 miles of trails lead across a wild canyon and through lush ferns, big-leaf maple and alder. My kids and I enjoyed hiking the 3.2 mile loop to the lime kilns, built in the 1870s – a little history thrown in! Located northwest of Felton.
Henry Cowell State Park offers 20 miles of beautiful trails, ranging from easy to difficult. The level Redwood Grove loop is just under a mile – perfect for younger children, and a fabulous place to run laps for P.E.! (After that, wander up to Roaring Camp for some history.) Pipeline Road begins at the Nature Center and ends at the park’s southeast corner at Graham Hill road. Bring bikes to Pipeline Road for another P.E. option. Located in Felton.
Moss Landing/Jetty Road
My son’s birding days led us to Jetty Road, where he captured some of his best photographs. Just north of the Moss Landing harbor, turn off highway 1 at Jetty Road for an incredible winter birding trip. Many species of shorebirds and birds of prey settle in during the winter months, providing viewers with outstanding photography opportunities.
Quail Hollow was once owned by the Lane family, who also owned Sunset Magazine! This beautiful park features 15 habitats and 4.5 miles of trails. Free classes and workshops are offered at the historic ranch complex, and the site can be rented for special events. The Meadow Loop trail is the perfect length for younger children. Located in Felton.
Wilder Ranch was once a successful and innovative dairy ranch. It’s now a state park, including 34 miles of gorgeous trails along ocean bluffs and valleys. The original Wilder family buildings are preserved and open to the public. Living history demonstrations offer a wonderful unschooling resource. Lots of cute animals, too! Located north of Santa Cruz.