Bicycles are allowed only on Pipeline Road, Rincon Fire Road, Ridge Fire Road, and Powder Mill Fire Road. Bikes are NOT allowed in the Fall Creek Unit and NOT allowed Santa Cruz Sandhills habitat. Bikes are not allowed in these areas as the Santa Cruz Sandhills are a rare and unique community of plants and animals. The Zayante sand soil outcrops can only be found in the central portion of Santa Cruz County and derive from sediment deposited over 15 million years ago when the region was under the ocean. Because of sand quarrying, housing developments, decreases in fires, unlawful recreation, and invasive species over 40% of this habitat has been lost.
You can help by not biking through these areas and staying on the trail.
Key: easiest = *, hardest = ****
Pipeline (blue line)
Difficulty: Lower = *, Upper = ****
Surface Covering: paved
Mileage: 3.3 Miles
Description: Pipeline is a paved road that goes through the park (vehicles are not allowed on this road). The lower section, near the Day Use Area, is very flat and scenic. Past Rincon Fire Road turn off, Pipeline begins a steep upward climb until it meets the Overlook Bench. From there to Graham Hill Road, it continues with steep uphill and downhill sections.
Powder Mill Road (red line)
Surface Covering: packed sand and fine soil
Description: Powder Mill is a great trail for an easy ride from the campground. The surface is good for bikes and stays fairly level until it crosses Ridge Road. From there to Pipeline it begins a gradual downhill descent.
Rincon Fire Road (black line)
Surface Covering: mixed leaf litter
Description: Great for the advanced mountain biker who wants a long ride and lots of different scenery. Rincon Road begins at the Rincon Parking Lot located off Highway 9, and quickly descends to the river. Once at the river, the trail crosses and begins up the other side. (Please note: there is no bridge at this river crossing. Riders must walk across the river.) At the top of the ridge is Cathedral Redwoods, a giant ring of redwoods. From here, the ride is almost all downhill until the trail meets up with Pipeline Road. If you are looking for a longer ride, Rincon Road connects the Pogonip County Park and University of California Santa Cruz properties, and even goes through to Wilder Ranch State Park.
Help preserve YOUR trails and land
When rules are not followed, mountain biking can be very harmful to the environment, especially at Henry Cowell. We ask that you read and observe the following information so you can help us to preserve your park for years to come.
Stay on the Fire Road: When ridden off-road, mountain bikes can be very damaging to the environment. This causes plant destruction, animal habitat disruption and erosion. Please help us avoid this by staying on the trails and observing trail closures.
No Power Sliding or Power Braking: This is when the brakes are applied so tightly that the wheels lock up and begin to drag dirt with them. This tears up the trail and also causes the rider to lose control.
Avoid Muddy Spots: Riding through mud can cause deep ruts in the trail that cause and uneven surface for others and are hard to fix. Mud can also be harmful to your bike and can reduce your braking ability, so please walk your bike around muddy spots.
Pack it in, Pack it Out: Please don’t leave anything behind in the park. If you have garbage, hold on to it until you return to the parking lot where trash receptacles are located.
Leave Nature Behind: Everything in Henry Cowell is protected by law. It is illegal to collect any items that you find here, so please leave it behind for others to enjoy
Stay off the Trestle: the railroad tracks and trestles (railway bridges) are private tracks and can be very dangerous. Do not attempt to cross any of the trestles.
Be Careful of the River Crossings: on Rincon Fire Road the trail crosses the San Lorenzo River. This river is very wide and fast moving, especially in winter and spring. When attempting to cross, make sure you have secure footing and never try to cross if the water is deeper than your knees.
Always Ride with a Partner: Never head out on a ride by yourself. It’s always a good idea to have a partner in case one person needs to go for help.
Trail Yield System
When riding on trails at Henry Cowell, please observe the trail yield system. Mountain Bikers are required to yield the trail when hikers or horses are passing. This system is very important to create an environment of positive cooperation between all park users.
*Please note that their are no bridges at river crossings.