Santa Cruz Section 2
Davenport to Four Mile Beach Trailhead
Probably by 2004 the huge ranch known as the Coast Dairies will open to the public. In September 1997, the Save-the-Redwoods League, Trust for Public Land and Santa Cruz Land Trust negotiated a deal to purchase the 7000-acre ranch for permanent open space and park land. We anticipate that the public will have access to the entire coastline under the jurisdiction of State Parks. Many of the historic farm uses will likely remain, and about 7 miles of coastal bluffs north and south of Davenport will become accessible. At present many of the pocket beaches are accessible by legal easements on paths from informal parking areas along the highway.
For now however, this CCT section requires walking the highway shoulder to get along the coast. Many people, from farmworkers to surfers, walk the railroad tracks paralleling the highway to get along the coast. Technically that's trespassing but it is commonly done without repercussions. We must emphasize that the only legal routes for now are the highway shoulder or adjacent side roads. Before leaving Davenport, check out the old jail built in 1906 and the Catholic church built in 1915 and still in use.
CCT follows the highway shoulder and three side roads from Davenport to Four Mile Beach, rolling through farmland and skirting the base of the hills. Deeply cut arroyos descend from the Santa Cruz Mountains on the inland side. West of the highway, the flat marine terrace grows abundant artichokes and Brussels sprouts. All along this stretch of the coast, hidden pocket beaches are tucked between spectacular wave- and wind-cut cliffs. Very popular with Santa Cruz surfers, swimmers and sun worshipers, most of these beaches are unmarked or cryptically marked. The best way tO find them is to watch for clusters of cars parked along the highway, then follow the well-worn paths across the railroad tracks and down to the beaches. Spacious and tranquil Davenport Beach nestles at the base of the bluffs just south of town. To the south, Panther Beach, Hole in the Wall Beach and Bonny Doon Beach are all in the first mile from Davenport. Yellow Bank Beach is at 1¾ miles, Laguna Creek Beach is around 2¾ miles, and Red, White, and Blue Beach is at 3½ miles.
Several portions of old highway still intact along this stretch get you off busy Highway 1. At 2¾ miles from Davenport, turn left for a ⅜-mile stroll on quiet Laguna Road. After a brief highway walk, veer right onto Coast Road around 3⅛ miles. It comes back to the highway at 3½ miles. Then follow the highway to Scaroni Road, veer right and walk Scaroni across the tracks out onto the marine terrace, looping back to Highway 1 around 4 miles. The mileage listed here is for the main highway. If you take all these scenic detours add about ¼ mile to the total. These loops take you by historic farms for a more intimate look at this picturesque area, The highway reaches the parking area for Four Mile Beach about 5 miles from Davenport. Watch for asphalt turnouts adjacent to each other on both sides of the highway. Just a few yards beyond, CCT climbs to a rutted parking area on the coastside perched above the highway. The turnout has a pipe gate and (as of this writing) a well-graffitied state park sign. This section ends here and the next section descends to Four Mile Beach.
SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS & LOOPS: The pocket beaches along this route are well worth exploring. Park on the highway and walk the short paths leading over the tracks and through agricultural fields to the beaches.
Distance: 5 miles (8 kilometers).
Open to: Hikers. Bicyclists on road.
Surface: Paved road, highway shoulder, trail.
Access point: Davenport.
How to get there: Davenport is on east side of Highway 1 about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz.
Other access: Anywhere along Highway 1.
Elevation gain/loss: 20 feet+/80 feet-.
Cautions: Stay back from cliff edges. Watch for traffic on Highway 1.
Further information: Wilder Ranch State Park (831)423-9703.
Facilities: Davenport has restaurants, a deli and a store. Four Mile Beach has chemical toilets.
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: (83 1)338-8861, horse: (831)425-1218.
Lodging: Santa Cruz Hostel (831)423-8304 is 10 miles south. Davenport has a few choices and Santa Cruz has many.
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