5 Best Dog Friendly Hikes in Santa Cruz

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Santa Cruz County, Northern California, is best known for its beautiful state parks and beaches.

With lots of dog-friendly hiking trails in Santa Cruz that offer gorgeous views, there’s no reason not to go outside and hike.

And being able to hike with your furry friend in this beautiful coastal town and enjoy the scenery is perhaps the best.

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Here are the 5 best dog-friendly trails in Santa Cruz.

1. West Cliff Drive

West Cliff Drive is a very popular coastal trail in Santa Cruz. It is a 4-mile out-and-back trail along the Pacific Ocean that offers scenic views and is perfect for people of all skill levels.

Not only the ocean, mountains, and cliffs you will see, but also the iconic lighthouse, and there’s a dog-friendly beach called Mitchell’s Cove Beach, which your pup will surely love to play on.

2. Pipeline Road Trail

There are many great hiking trails in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, yet only a few of them welcome dogs. And the Pipeline Road Trail is one of the dog-friendly trails there, also a popular option. It is 3 miles long, pretty easy, and well-shaded. 

The first part of it runs along the San Lorenzo River, and you will be hiking through the beautiful redwoods. If you would love to explore more with your pooch in the park, you can also check out the Meadow Trail, Graham Hill Trail, and Powder Mill Fire Road.

3. The Medicine Buddha Trail

Another place that you can hike with your dog is the Medicine Buddha Trail in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. It is 5.2 miles long, a clean and very peaceful trail that ascends through the redwood forest.

And note that there is an incredible amount of poison oak along the ridge, so be careful. Also remember, the trail ends at Land of Medicine Buddha, a meditation and retreat facility, make sure to keep your voices low and show respect.

4. DeLaveaga Park Trail

DeLaveaga Park is also a great place to hike. This trail is 4.4 miles long, which will take you through mixed woodlands with a few steep sections, but nothing too crazy. And there’s a vista point called Top of the World that offers impressive views of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay.

Overall, it is quite easy, and that makes it a perfect hiking spot for beginners.

5. Byrne Trail

Don’t have much time but would still love to go on a hike? Then, look no further than the Byrne Trail, located in Byrne-Milliron Forest.

It is only 2.95 miles long and offers panoramic views of Monterey Bay and Pajaro Valley. Also, it has lots of elevation change, and part of the trail is pretty steep, so you and your four-legged friend will surely have a good workout!


We hope you find this post helpful, and ensure to check out our tips for hiking with dogs to keep your furkid safe and comfortable. Plus, this dog hiking gear list that compiles everything you need to pack for your fido before you hit the trail!

Enjoy your hikes with your dog in Santa Cruz!