With Big Basin trails largely closed because of the fire last season, Skyline to Sea, as one of the ultra routes this year, is not an option. I’ve been looking for other ways to do an ultra that ends in Santa Cruz and super happy with this route. Starting from Los Gatos, this largely follows low traffic, mountain roads to end up along the BoardWalk and finish at the Wharf. Here’s my Strava activity:
Los Gatos to Santa Cruz
Parked at one of the entrances to Vasona Lake County Park and headed out a little before 6am. While the heat wave that hit the Bay Area is winding down, it was still going to be in the mid-eighties here, while much cooler in Santa Cruz. The plan was to get over the summit and descend down to stay in cooler temperatures.
I thought Los Gatos Creek Trail would be a bit more crowded on a Sunday morning, but I guess it was still early. There weren’t a whole lot folks on the trail and it really thinned out once I started on Jones Trail. The Alma Bridge Road section was all new to me and I could see on Strava that there was a connector of sorts to Bear Creek Rd, but hadn’t scouted it.
Based on my Google Street View scouting, Bear Creek Rd was prolly the sketchiest with little to no shoulder and possibly a fair bit of traffic. But with the early Sunday am run, it turned out just fine. Mental note to go checkout Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve.
As soon as I summited Bear Creek Rd and entered the San Lorenzo watershed area, the temperature dropped and there was plenty of canopy providing ample shade.
There was a five mile stretch on Mountain Charlie road in this route, which was super cool. A narrow, windy, one-lane road surrounded by redwoods descending down. Turns out there’s a whole history behind Mountain Charlie! Especially the part when he tried to fend off a bear and survived to tell the tale, even after getting injured in the process.
Glenwood Dr was another beautiful road, almost completely shaded. I pulled into Scotts Valley, mile 18 in 3ish hours. Stopped at the gas station to grab a coke (a must do on an urban ultra!) and headed down Granite Creek Dr (another classic mountain road).
After being in the quiet mountain roads for so long, it was a bit of a shock to show up at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, full of people and no masks. California is back!
When I reached the Wharf, I was at mile 27ish. So did a quick out and back on W. Cliff Dr. and then ended the run at the very end of the Wharf. My wife met me at the finish with some ice cold coke and drove me back to Los Gatos. With urban runs, you don’t always know what you are going to get, but this route is a keeper! Finished the run right around 5:30ish. That was a big milestone, getting to the half way point in the 50 ultras project for the year!
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