NileGuide Expert Says:
Best hidden gem in Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
NileGuide Expert tip:
Dogs are not permitted on the trails. Sheriffs will ask dog owners to leave if they bring their pooches.
The Garden of Eden is as magical a place as its name suggests. Getting here is a bit of a mission, especially for the navigationally challenged, but once you find this forest hideaway, the effort will be well worth it. Take Highway 9 up towards Henry Cowell State Park. Park at the Ox Trail turnout (if it's a warm spring or summer day, a semi-full parking lot will be a good indicator) and follow the trail-head. After a mile or so of exquisite redwood hiking along the San Lorenzo river, you'll spot the natural swimming holes that make up the Garden of Eden. This is the perfect spot to cool off on a hot summer day. The trail is a bit more arduous than hikers might initially expect, especially on the uphill way back. Bring plenty of water and towels to dry off. Pack a picnic, and don't forget to pack your trash.