|Up to the top of the world
There is a short but moderately challenging trail for hikers, dog
walkers, and mountain- bike riders less than a half-hour away.
Although the trail is unmarked and not officially named, this
three-mile, out-and-back single-track trail takes you to Corona
Lookout, known to Santa Cruz locals as Top of the World.
Itís worth the trip up for a nice view of
Monterey Bay. After all, itís only a mile-and-a half long. It isnít
far to the top, and the climb is moderate, even level in many
sections. Most of the way is in shade. Sounds good.
There are, however, some challenges. First, itís
unmarked, so itís difficult to find. The nice trees come with
not-nice roots that criss-cross many sections of the trail. You
encounter many ditches, holes, bumps, and other obstacles. If you
are a hiker, you had better lift your feet. If you are a biker,
youíll need to maintain control at slow speeds. And donít expect to
For days after rain, the trail has many mud holes
and "slippery-slidey" areas. It can be a good walk or ride, but you
may get dirty or even fall down. Some people call this fun; others
call it something else. I call it a good trail. I like single-track
trails more than roads. You feel more like you are "in" the
environment, especially in forest. The shade is deeper. You disturb
less, becoming part of the scene. Even the obstacles are good,
because they keep you aware. Itís living in the moment.
This trail offers some variety, too. Youíll see
many species of trees and plants, from redwoods and ferns to strange
little trees and wildflowers. Just about the time you get tired of
dark forest, you pass through an open meadow filled with sun above
and green grass below. And then there is the view from Top of the
World. Close by, you may see the disk (Frisbeeģ) golfers flipping
their lids. Beyond them, your view may include the plumes from the
stacks at Moss Landing, the shimmering waves of Monterey Bay, and
the dark blue mountains behind Monterey and Pacific Grove. After all
that climbing through dark shade, you can watch the view from a nice
big bench in bright, warm sun. Yes, itís a nice prize at the end of
a good walk, run, or ride.
Finding the trail
First, you must find DeLaveaga Park. If you
havenít been there, you may find the directions confusing. Drive
down Highway 17, turn right onto Mt. Hermon Road, and then right
again at the first traffic light, Glen Canyon Road. Go under the
freeway, and stay on the right to continue on Glen Canyon Road. At
the three-mile mark, turn left at the intersection with Branciforte
Drive. Watch for the park sign on the right at 850 Branciforte
If you know where to look, the trailhead is easy
to find. As you enter the park, watch for the restrooms on the
right, just beyond the first group of picnic areas. Youíll see a set
of stairs and a small bridge. Park in any of the nearby parking
Cross the bridge and take the trail up and south
to the right. When you come to an intersection of trail, turn left
at the hairpin turn to go north. You are now on the trail to Top of
If at the intersection, you took the trail
uphill, you would climb 3/10 of a mile up a wide but relatively
steep trail that dead ends at the DeLaveaga golf course. (Crossing
the golf course is a no-no.)
Back at the bridge, near the restrooms, if you
turned left rather than right, you would follow a lower trail north
behind and around the softball diamonds. This is a relatively easy,
flat trail that takes you to the northern parking area.
Hereís another option. At the same intersection
of three trails, turning right (south) takes you on a lower loop
trail that wanders through the woods close to the road. At 6/10 of a
mile, a sharp hairpin turn brings you to Sand Pit Road. Turning left
on this fire road will loop you back to your starting place.
I hate to admit it, but non-hikers can also visit
Top of the World by driving on Glen Canyon Road to Branciforte, then
turning right (south) to Goss, left on Goss, and left again on Upper
Park Road to the disk-golf parking area. Itís a short walk up
through the disk-golf course to Top of the World. It doesnít seem
fair, but itís an option.
The trails are open to hikers, bicyclists, and
dogs on leash. A non-leash area is also available.
There are more than trails at DeLaveaga. Children
can play on the playground equipment. Adults can play on the golf
and disk-golf courses. An archery range is open on weekend
afternoons. Picnic areas, complete with barbecue grills and tables,
and ball fields are available for groups. Some can be reserved;
others are first come, first served. Facilities include restrooms,
drinking fountain, and phone.
If you are looking for a short drive to a
challenging run, walk, or ride, go for it. You can be on Top of the
For more information, visit City of Santa Cruz
Parks and Recreation at their website www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us/pr/parksrec/parks/delapark.html,
or call 831-420-5270.