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It's Time to Take a Hike!

Here's a weekend guide to Fall wildflower strolls, redwood groves, and butterfly wings near you.

Pack a few apples, maybe some Pirate's Booty, and head for the hills. Fall is officially on, and that means fresh air and butterfly peeping in Santa Cruz County. 

Sneak away to one of these spots by yourself or with a friend, or if you're not into being alone in the woods, join up with one of these group hikes happening this weekend in Santa Cruz County's plethora of beautiful State Parks.

Here's a guide to your weekend in nature:

WELCOME BACK MONARCHS!

Where: Natural Bridges State

When: Sunday, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Dress code:  Salute the Monarchs in black and orange!

What: "Welcome Back Monarchs Day" is a Fall tradition in Santa Cruz, and the guests of honor will be high in the sky, flitting around the eucalyptus grove, and dozing in the warm fall sun in long chains.

There will be arts and crafts, childrens' games, and music by the "Mostly Mediocre Musical Monarch Mariposas," also known as the 5M's. There will also be "Monarch" ice cream, which will taste a lot like pumpkin.

There will also be information booths teaching how to start a successful butterfly garden. 

HABITAT HIKE WITH A PARK NATURALIST

Where: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park,  enter the park from Hwy 9 entrance.

When: Saturday, Oct. 13 at 12 p.m., also known as "high noon."

What: A four hour, five mile hike at a moderate speed through four different habitats: riparian broadleaf forest, old growth redwood forest, upland pine-oak woodland and the rare and endangered sandhills. You can look forward to a wide variety of plants and animals, and a 360 degree view from the park's observation deck.

Who: Adults, and young adults who are diligent hikers.

What to bring: Wear layers, walking shoes, water, sun protection and trail snacks. Heavy rain cancels.

BIG BASIN REDWOODS STATE PARK

Where: 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Highway 236.  

When: Redwood loop walk is every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Except for the 11 a.m. walk on Saturday, Oct. 20.)

What: A 90 minute walk, wheel chair and stroller accessible. Learn how the redwoods grow to be so old, tall and important to humans. Meet the "Mother Tree". 

VOLUNTEER WITH THE TRAIL CREW!

Where: Meet at the headquarters of Big Basin State Park.

When: Saturday, Oct. 13 at 9 a.m. (must be 18 years or older).

What: Since 1969 the Big Basin Volunteer Trail Crew has helped make it possible for others to enjoy the beauty of the park. Rain or shine, the second Saturday of every month. Bring your own work gloves, lunch, and water.

BERRY CREEK FALLS HIKE

Where: Meet at the headquarters of Big Basin State Park.

When: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 9:30 a.m.

What: Travel deep into the heart of Big Basin on this strenuous 11-mile loop hike. Shady redwood canyons and dry ridges as you hike the jewel of Big Basin: 65 foot high Berry Creek Falls.

What to Bring: Lots of water, lunch and layers. *This hike is 7 hours!

BIKE AND HIKE TO THE GIANTS!

Where: Big Basin

When: Sunday, Oct. 14 and Sunday Oct. 28 at 10 a.m.

What: A family friendly adventure. A 1-mile bike ride, with a stop to learn about our redwood trees, followed by a .25 mile hike to the site of Big Basin's first pioneer settlers.

And many more hikes for kids, adults, and everybody are listed on the Activities and Programs page.

A TOUR OF GREY WHALE RANCH

Where: Wilder Ranch State Park, two miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1.

When: Saturday, Oct. 13 at 9:00 a.m.What: A guided three hour hike complete with cultural history of the upper hills of Wilder Ranch State Park, and a healthy dose of windy sea cliffs and ocean air. If the morning is shining, it's on. If it's raining, this hike isn't happening.

What to Bring: Good walking shoes, lunch, snacks, water. 

MOUNATIN BIKING, HIKING, EQUESTIRAN AND BIRD WATHING A Rancho del Oso

Where: The Rancho del Oso Nature and History center is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1, at the base of Big Basin State Park.

When: Anytime.What: Click the Waddell Creek - Rancho Del Oso website for a guide to a plethora of back country trails. You can choose from easy, moderate, or long strenuous hikes!

WILDFLOWER WALK!

Where: Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center

When: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 10 a.m.

What: Docent Scott Peden will lead a 4.5 mile hike to view a variety of wildflowers "in a rainbow of colors" within five different habitats. There are easily 50 species of flowers to look at.

Photographers: bring your cameras.

What to bring: Lunch, water, and energy to hike!

BUILDING METHODS AT THE MISSION

Where: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, off Mission Plaza on School Street, overlooking downtown Santa Cruz.

When: Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

What: Come and see how the oldest building in town was made. You will have the chance to get your hands dirty and make your own adobe brick! You'll work with the same materials used by the Ohlone to build their homes, and the materials used by the Spanish to build Mission Santa Cruz.

Shannon Burkey (Editor) October 11, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I love seeing the Monarchs. Who else will be going to see them?

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