The Byrne-Milliron Forest is a pawsome resource for people and their pups. This beautiful 402-acre wooded preserve has seven miles of trails where well-behaved dogs are allowed to romp and roam off-leash as long as they are under voice control. A wide range of wildlife find haven among these ancient trees, including the dozens of bird species that twitter from the branches. One thousand-year-old redwoods here are over 250 feet tall.
The lower trails are shaded while higher trails emerge into full sun. As you climb, riparian ecosystems give way to oak and madrone forest, then to coniferous zones and chaparral. Trail elevation in the Byrne-Milliorn Forest ranges from about 900 to about 1600 feet. High points on the trails provide panoramic views of the Pajaro Valley and Monterey Bay. Throughout the park, you'll also find whimsical sculptures and wood carvings, typically guarding trail junctions, vista points, and other places of interest along the way.
The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County provides a map of the forest's trails on its website. The main trail is the Byrne Trail, which forms a three-mile loop around the boundary of the preserve and gains about six hundred feet in elevation over its course. On the northern part of the loop, look for the 0.4-mile out-and-back Ridge Top spur trail leading to one of the highest elevation vista points in the preserve. On the western section of the loop, look for the Milliron spur trail, which leads to the Great White Loop and the thousand-year-old redwood.
The Byrne-Milliron Forest is something of a hidden treasure and is rarely crowded. That said, you're likely to meet other people and their pups here. Only let your dog off leash if you're comfortable with their ability to socialize and respond to your commands.
While the trails in this preserve can definitely provide you and your pup with a good workout, there's no need to hurry here. Take your time as you wander through these whimsical woods and you're sure to go home with smiles and wags.