Ohlone Bluff Trail hugs the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
Since the arrival of European settlers, the land around Wilder Ranch served a number of owners for various agricultural purposes. More recently, it housed extensive dairy operations. By the late 1960's taxes on the property started to exceed the income from farming operations. Citizens of Santa Cruz County were able to fend off plans to develop the property for housing. California acquired the land in 1974.
Today the park's 7,000 acres stretch from near the top of Bald Mountain all the way to the Pacific coast. This provides a wide variety of terrain and vegetation. Douglas Firs and Redwoods dominate in the uphill areas leading down to Oaks, Manzanitas and grasslands. The widely varying habitat is reflected in the large variety of animals to be found here including deer, bobcats, coyotes and even mountain lions. Along the coast one can spot harbor seals as well as a number of birds that nest on the steep cliffs.
A view of the trail along the coast looking back towards the hill that contain yet more trails.
A cultural preserve area not far from the pay station leading into the park maintains a number of buildings and structures that highlight the ranch's previous history as a working dairy operation. Around this area and along the first mile or so of the Ohlone Bluff Trail you'll find most of the park's visitors. Continue walking past these areas for increased solitude.
The south east corner of the park is a natural preserve and access by humans is restricted. Be on the lookout for deer in the dense flats of brush. Because the beach here is off limits, a good number of shorebirds may be spotted resting on the sand.
Along most of the Ohlone Bluff Trail the landward side of the trail consists of agricultural fields still in active use within the park boundaries. Some of the fields contain organic operations and some that are less organic.
Trail overlook at three mile beach.
At a couple of spots along the trail creeks emptying into the ocean create dense thickets of shrubs leading the trail to turn inland in search of an easier passage. This turns out to be a path along the railroad that parallels the shoreline a bit further inland.
It may be easy to lose the trail at the railroad bypass upstream from Sand Plant Beach. The unpaved farm service road runs parallel to the much narrower trail at this point and one might be of the opinion that the trail is actually a rogue trail. Even if you get end up on the wrong fork here it will be fairly easy to cross back over as the official trail becomes more apparent.
When hiking along the coast, don't forget to look farther offshore. Whales travel up and down the coast at different times of year. The easiest way to spot them is by their telltale water spouts and they surface for a quick breath of air. They will typically swim beyond the kelp beds you can see offshore, but they will occasionally venture in even closer.