Santa Cruz Section 1
Waddell Creek to Davenport
This hike begins on Waddell Beach, the terminus of the Skyline-to-the Sea Trail, and ends at the historic little town of Davenport. Much of the route follows the highway and several small rural side roads, but the scenic shoreline and agricultural character of the area make the walk pleasant.
From the parking area on the north side of Waddell Creek, step down to the beach and head south. If the creek is too high to cross, use the highway bridge and then drop to the beach. Soon steep cliffs border the beach. At ⅝ mile tidepools invite exploration. Because the highway runs far above across the marine terrace, this beach feels remote and wild.
As you round a point above the tidepool area, Greyhound Rock comes into view.
At 1½ miles an access trail comes down to the beach at the smooth gray sandstone rock, a popular fishing spot. CCT heads up this trail, but first consider exploring the rock and the pleasant beach beyond, blocked at the south end by a steep promontory. Climb the trail to the parking lot at the top of the 160-foot cliff at 1⅝ miles. Follow the highway south for the next 3 miles as it hugs the very edge of the marine terrace. The land west of the highway is public, but the cliffs are steep, and in places the highway follows the cliff edge. Watch for places where you can walk off the shoulder.
At 4⅝ miles the highway drops down off the terrace to cross Scott Creek. To the west accessible Scott Creek Beach, now part of Santa Cruz County's park system, offers a good place to take a break but no through passage south along the shore. Continue along the highway shoulder, traversing a wide marine terrace dedicated to agricultural crops. At 5⅞ miles turn right and walk Davenport Landing Road to the little settlement of Davenport Landing at 6⅛ miles, site of an historic whaling community built in 1870. A stairway and ramp lead to the beach and chemical toilets are available. The pleasant and popular beach is blocked by vertical cliffs at its south end. Continue along the side road as our route swings back up to the highway at 6⅜ miles.
Cross the highway and follow Cement Plant Road as it parallels the highway and passes an old farm building, then a small settlement of worker housing. After you pass the cement plant, the road comes out on the highway at 7½ miles. Walk the shoulder briefly into the tiny town of Davenport at 7⅝ miles where this section ends. The town has a deli, a restaurant and a store. The point out on the bluffs across the highway offers an excellent vantage point to watch for gray whales on their twice yearly passage between Mexico and Alaska.
SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS & LOOPS: Park at either Waddell Creek or Greyhound Rock and walk out and back for a pleasant 3-mile round trip on a beach with tidepools. On the east side of the highway at Waddell Creek you'll find the western end of the Skyline-to-Sea Trail, a 38-mile-long hiking and horse trail that starts high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, passing through virgin redwood forests in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Most people who hike it start at the other end, but it offers pleasant walks up Waddell Creek before it starts climbing steeply.
Distance: 7⅝ miles (12.3 kilometers).
Open to: Hikers. Bicyclists on road.
Surface: Beach, highway shoulder, road shoulder.
Access point: Waddell Creek parking lot.
How to get there: Turn west off Highway about 17 miles north of Santa Cruz into Waddell Creek parking lot.
Other access: Greyhound Rock, Scott Creek Beach, Davenport Landing, or anywhere along highway.
Elevation gain/loss: 320 feet+/240 feet-.
Cautions: Watch for big waves when walking beach. Watch for traffic on highway.
Further information: Wilder Ranch State Park (831)423-9703.
Facilities: Food, gas, water in Davenport. Chemical toilets at Waddell Creek, Greyhound Rock, and Davenport Landing.
Campgrounds: Butano State Park east of Pigeon Point has car camping. Waddell Creek has both hike-in and equestrian campgrounds, but you must call for reservations, hike-in: (831)338-8861, horse: (831)425-1218.
Lodging: Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel (650)879-0633 is miles north. Santa Cruz Hostel (831)423-8304 is 17 miles south. Davenport has a few choices with many more in Santa Cruz.
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