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Santa Cruz Outdoor Recreation For Family Adventures

March 8, 2017 | Dave Criswell
How We Teach Survival Skills

Here are our local Santa Cruz outdoor recreation suggestions to get your family outdoors and excited about adventure camp this summer!

Our mission is to inspire kids to lead active lifestyles, which means staying active even when camp season is not in session.  We encourage a year-round engagement with the outdoors, so we’ve provided a list of great Santa Cruz local outdoor recreation spots below to get your family started.

santa cruz biking

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, encompassing nearly 10,000 acres, will welcome your family with a lush forest oasis. From old-growth redwoods to earthquake faults and waterfalls, this place is truly magical. We love this local outdoor recreation spot for hiking, trail running, picnic get togethers, and biking.

You may even stumble upon historic logging sites and an albino redwood!

Santa Cruz Outdoor Recreation

Best Beginner Hiking Trail: Old Growth Loop 

The trail name is extremely fitting, as this 1.5 mile loop will take you on a local adventure through some ancient redwoods. Discover one of the most notable trees along this loop, the Advocate Tree,  the oldest and tallest tree in the park. Furthermore, find the twisted grove, a natural phenomenon of trees that have twisted as they’ve grown to self correct from earthquakes.

Best Intermediate Hiking Trail: Aptos Creek Trail

Journey along the Aptos Creek and reach the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Follow the Aptos Fire Road for 2.7 miles, then jump on the narrow Aptos Creek Trail to discover the epicenter!

To access the remote Five Finger Falls, continue hiking for 3.5 miles, and be sure to prepare for a 12 mile round trip.

Santa Cruz Outdoor Recreation

Best Beginner Biking Trail: Aptos Creek Fire Road 

A nice gentle grade along the Fire Road provides for a great beginner bike ride! The Fire Road goes on for miles, passing a few picnic areas and the Loma Prieta Mill Site, so make this ride as long or short as desired. More biking adventure awaits under the lush redwood canopy, and is found just south of the Steel Bridge on single track trails.

Avid’s core values – like Live Fun! – encourage a year-round engagement with the outdoors. The values that your kid learns while camping will last them a lifetime, but encouraging a year-round engagement with the outdoors, especially with the whole family, is vital. Luckily the California coast has some of the most exhilarating hikes, trails, and routes in the U.S.! 

We couldn’t be more excited to see your kids at camp for even more adventures, and we would love for you to share your photos and stories with us on any of the social media platforms that you find on the bottom of our webpage



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