Tucked back into the folded, twisted, faulted, redwood-covered Santa Cruz Mountains near Corralitos CA stands the Byrne-Milliron Forest, 402 acres of public land managed by the Land trust of Santa Cruz County. It's not easy to find. You have to pass through a gate to a nursery of some sort before you wind up at the entrance. But the sign there lets you know right away it's not your every day county park. But of course! This is Santa Cruz!
A matriarch stands guard, so you better behave.
There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails (no bikes or horses here, please), with a good bit of elevation gain and loss to work your heart, quads, and knees. The trails are laid out in a quasi-concentric manner, so if you want to go all day you can, but you can also loop back to the parking area at several points if you wish.
One steepish but beautiful trail leads to the "Great White Redwood Tree" over 600 years old and 233 feet tall. In the morning light, the redwood bark appears light-colored. Hence the name, I suppose. The tree is awe-inspiring and huggable and there is a wood-hewn little table and bench there where you can snack and rest.
Perhaps the most interesting features in this park, aside from the quiet natural setting, are the fascinating wood carvings found at intervals along the trail. The best place to see a bunch of them at once is at AJ's Point of View, an overlook stocked with drinking water and trinkets at the approximate center of the park.
There are also journals with amusing, creative, and sometimes bizarre entries written by visitors over the years. Don't miss AJ's Point of View, with the dedication plaque for Jeff Helmer, a longtime caretaker of the forest.
If you haven't visited this park, do it, you will be glad you went and I know you'll be back for more.
Peace, Love, and Hard to Find Getaways,