The Santa Cruz Trail is a furrific natural-surface passage that starts about a mile north of Upper Oso Camp and continues for nineteen miles to the border of the San Rafael Wilderness. On this pathway, you'll hike through a sandstone canyon, up the side of a mountain, and through black oak and pine forest. Parts of the path are very rugged or non-existent, so be prepared for a challenging workout.
You can begin your trek from the trailhead at Upper Oso campground. There are restrooms and a parking area here. You'll start in a sandstone canyon as you follow Oso Creek for about a mile. Once you pass near Nineteen Oaks Campground, the pathway wanders through meadows and canyons as you slowly ascend up switchbacks. The hike will take you over Little Pine Mountain and continue for about 15 miles. Out here, you'll climb and descend mountains in the Los Padres National Forest before arriving at the San Rafel Wilderness. Check with the rangers about any burn restrictions before you light a campfire if you choose to camp along the way.
As a part of the National Forest Service, this trail is open to leashed dogs. Bring adequate refreshments for you and your furry pal when you come. Pack in your supplies and pack out all waste so that you leave no trace of your visit. There are campgrounds at several points along the route where you can spend the night with your special pal.
Adventure awaits you and your four-footed friend on the Santa Cruz Trail. Hike over rugged terrain and get some pawtastic views of the mountains in the Los Padres National Forest. From canyons to creeks to forests, you'll experience a variety of landscapes on this dirt road. Be on the lookout for beautiful wildflowers, like mustard and poppies, and watch for resident wildlife as you hike here.