Waddell Creek - Rancho Del Oso
Rancho del Oso
This Portion of the park is located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz off Highway 1. From Santa Cruz, turn right just before the Waddell Creek Bridge at the sign for Rancho Del Oso Nature and History Center. From Half Moon Bay take Highway One south 30 miles and turn left after the Waddell Creek Bridge (2.6 miles south of Año Nuevo State Reserve). For more information call (831) 427-2288 or (831) 425-1218
Waddell Creek and Rancho del Oso (a part of Big Basin Redwoods State Park) offer a variety of recreational opportunities. Join with a docent and see and explore the park with a guide: To find out more, Click here or choose the Rancho del Oso guided hikes, talks and special events tab to the right.
Six miles of Canyon Road (a graded dirt fire road) meanders along the course of Waddell Creek. It is almost level for the entire length.
For bike rides along the fire road, we recommend only fat-tire bicycles be used as it is dirt and ruts will cause problems for a narrow tired "road bike". Helmets are required for young riders and recommended for ALL! There are NO through trails to Big Basin, and NO single track trails are open to bicycles at Rancho del Oso or the main portions of Big Basin State Park.
HIKING and BACKPACKING
A series of Backpack Trail Camps are spaced along the trail, with three being located within easy hiking distance from the Rancho del Oso park headquarters. Reservations are required to stay in the Back packing camps. Please call 831-338-8861 to make reservations. The back pack trail camps are closed for the Winter months November 1st through April 30th.
There is also an Equestrian trail camp that (with reservations) allows riders to camp overnight with their horses. For reservations for the horse camp, please call 831-425-1218. Please note, Dogs are not allowed in any portion of Rancho del Oso, nor in the horse camp at any time.
WINDSURFING AND KITEBOARDING
Waddell Beach, located across Highway 1 from the park entrance, is known worldwide as one of THE spots for windsurfing and kite surfing. The steady strong North West winds and good surf provide ideal conditions for this demanding sport. Launching from the tops of incoming waves the best windsurfers can complete full loops and continue on their way. With the strong winds and occasionally heavy surf, Waddell Beach is not recommended for novice wind surfers. Regular surfers and boogie boarders also find it an ideal spot to pursue their activities.
A good place for bird watching is on the inland side of Hwy. 1 in the Theodore J. Hoover Natural Preserve.
Dogs are not allowed in any portion of Rancho del Oso nor on Waddell Beach.
Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center - Exhibits & Educational Programs
Saturday, April 27 and
Sunday, April 28, 2013
From 12 noon to 4:00 p.m.
Winter rains promise a profusion of spring wildflowers in the Waddell Valley. Come see them on display in the Rancho del Oso Nature Center and visit them on the park's trails during the Rancho del Oso Wildflower Weekend. You’ll see buttercups, shooting stars and western wake robin included in this annual exhibit of over fifty native plants in flower and several non-native species that are found in the western portion of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The assortment of shapes, sizes, colors and forms are a delight to the senses.
Open Weekends from 12 noon to 4:00p.m. (School groups by appointment)
California State Parks in cooperation with Waddell Creek Association invites you to visit the Rancho del Oso Nature and History Center located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, off Highway 1, just south of Waddell Beach. The park's interactive exhibits share the wonders and diversity of the Waddell Valley so that you can better explore and enjoy the park. The exhibits tell the story of Rancho del Oso as seen through the eyes of Hulda Hoover McLean, who moved here as a young girl and returned to raise her own family in the valley she knew and loved. Throughout the visitor center, Hulda’s appreciation of the land she came to know intimately is expressed through her art, written word and collections. The exhibits encourage visitors to explore, appreciate and protect the valley.
The remodeled center, with its rich, warm interior, invites the visitor to explore the “Close to the Heart” exhibit, which reflects on the family’s history in the valley. The “Seven Habitats” exhibit highlights the flora and fauna visitors can see along the trails. An interactive docent desk invites to investigate nature, look through a microscope, complete art projects and interact with docents and staff. “Stewards of the Valley” encourages visitors to take on the role of today’s stewards and introduces the sensitive species that need protection. The cultural section of the visitor center explores the logging history of the park and connects the past to the present. Come find out the details and be first to explore the center. Then take to the trails and begin your journey to get to know the sights, smells and seasons of Rancho del Oso.
Hulda’s father, Theodore J. Hoover, brother of former President Herbert Hoover, fell in love with the Waddell Valley as a student at Stanford University. When Theodore Hoover first came upon Waddell Creek, he fell in love with this place and its “trout stream flowing between redwood covered heights down to the sea.” He resolved, “When my ship comes in I’m going to own this place.” That cherished plan was carried out when he bought 2500 acres of forest, hill and dale. Hulda Hoover McLean spent her childhood in close association with the land and felt strongly about its preservation. In 1983 she began arranging for her home to become what is now the Nature and History Center.
Drive north from Santa Cruz on Hwy 1 for 17 miles to the Waddell Creek Bridge. Just before crossing the bridge, turn right at the sign and continue on the dirt road.
Weekends Noon - 4pm, or by advance appointment for groups.
Call (831) 427-2288 on weekends for more details.