Natural Bridges State Beach

Trail
N/A
N/A
N/A
(3.00)1
(3.00)
(3.00)
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
2531 West Cliff Dr.
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
More Info

Looking over Natural Bridges State Beach towards the lone remaining arch.
Looking over Natural Bridges State Beach towards the lone remaining arch.
This oasis on the edge of Santa Cruz packs a number of amenities in a relatively compact 65 acres. Despite its diminutive size, it plays a large role in the migration of Monarch Butterflies along the California Coast. It's the largest over-winter site in the state and from October through February large numbers gather here clinging to the trees and each other.

Humans too seem to be drawn to National Bridges. The sandy beach on the Pacific Coast is a draw for families on sunny days. From the beach one is afforded views of the naturally occurring rock arch just off shore that gives the park its name.

A closer view of the remaining arch near shore at Natural Bridges State Beach.
A closer view of the remaining arch near shore at Natural Bridges State Beach.
Why Natural Bridges and not something singular in reference? Not too long ago the formation you see here was actually comprised of 3 arches in a row perforating the cliff jutting into the ocean. The weathering of wind and water that formed the arches continues unabated. In the early 20th century the outer arch collapsed. The inner arch fell in an 1980 storm.

The state beach's boundaries contain a number of different sub-units denoting different protection levels for the animals that live or visit here. This includes both the Moore Creek Wetlands Natural Preserve and the Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve. Even with those protected areas one can conjure up a hiking or walking loop by combining the Moore Creek and Monarch Trails.

Though there might be but a mile of trail within the confines of the state beach itself, there's a bit more distance to be found via the shore along the Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve. The rocky terrace overlooking the ocean hosts a number of tidal pools and leads west all of the way to the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, if not a bit longer.

Recommended Item
Recommended Item The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book
Tom Taber
List Price: $14.95 Our price: $51.01 Buy Now
Rising just south of San Francisco, through San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and western Santa Clara counties, the Santa Cruz Mountains offer amazing scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities for Bay Area residents and visitors. This compact, detailed reference guides hikers, bikers, bird watchers, naturalists, and other outdoor enthusiasts through redwood canyons, conifer and oak woodlands, along the rugged Pacific coast, and to breathtaking summit views of the Bay Area and beyond. Each chapter includes an overview of the park or preserve with directions on how to reach it; detailed trail maps; and descriptions of trail conditions, ecology, topography, geology, history, and points of interest. At the beginning of the book, a map illustrates all the public lands in the mountains, and a separate chapter lists each unit of public land alphabetically. Special sections highlight noteworthy features, including poison oak, acorn woodpeckers, logging history, interesting characters, banana slugs, the best places for dog walking, and more.