Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail


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Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: Santa Cruz
Length: 2.5 miles
Trail end points: West Cliff Drive Bicycle Path & Natural Bridges Dr to Pacific Ave & Beach St (Santa Cruz) and 800 Ohlone Parkway to Walker St (Watsonville)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete, Metal
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 10607635


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Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail Description

The Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail is a paved multiuse rail-trail, and it will eventually run 32 miles along California's Santa Cruz County coastline, from Davenport to Watsonville. Following the former Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line corridor, the rail-trail is part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network—a developing 50-mile multiuse trail running south along the coast from the San Mateo County line to the Monterey County line in Pajaro. 

Coastal Rail Trail Segment 7

West of downtown Santa Cruz, 1.2 miles of the eventual 2-mile multiuse path are open to the public. Stretching from Natural Bridges Drive to the intersection of Bay Street & California Street, the trail provides safe connections between neighborhoods, schools, parks, community facilities, and businesses. The route features 10 bright green bicycle crossings, several new pedestrian crosswalks, signage, and new fencing.

Construction is underway to finish the remaining 0.8 miles and it's expected to open in July 2023. The paved multiuse trail will extend from the current segment endpoint to intersection of Bay Street & California Street to the intersection of Pacific Avenue & Beach Street. Running along the coastal side of the rail line, the trail will be 12-16 feet wide and have ADA compliant running slopes and curb ramps.

The new segment will connect residents with the local beaches and shopping centers. From the beachfront area, the route will meet the next section of the Coastal Rail Trail (Segment 8) and then the San Lorenzo River Parkway Trestle Trail.

San Lorenzo River Trestle Trail

The San Lorenzo River Trestle Trail was the first completed segment of the Coastal Rail Trail. The trail crosses the San Lorenzo River via a separated pedestrian bridge, which runs alongside an active railroad trestle owned by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission.

From the intersection of Beach Street & 3rd Street heading east to the intersection of E Cliff Drive & Hiawatha Avenue, the ADA compliant multiuse trail is about 0.1 miles or 340-feet long. The 10-foot-wide elevated pathway has new steel supports, bike friendly railing, a slip resistant surface, and lighting. 

At the western end on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the trail connects to the Santa Cruz Riverwalk and the West Cliff Drive Bicycle Path. The bridge has views of the San Lorenzo River and the ocean. On the other side, it connects to the Seabright neighborhood and the eastern segment of the Santa Cruz Riverwalk, forming an important link for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Coastal Rail Trail Segments 8 & 9

Stretching 2.2 miles between Pacific Avenue and 17th Avenue, this section links with Segment 7 at the intersection of Pacific Avenue & Beach Street and heads east over the existing San Lorenzo River Trestle to 17th Street. 

Running from Pacific Avenue & Beach Street to the bridge, Segment 8 is a 0.6-mile separated bikeway and improved sidewalks. The physically separate bike path is a Class IV on the street bicycle classification system. From the bridge, Segment 9 continues 1.6 miles east to 17th Street as a multiuse trail. 

Completion of Segments 8 & 9 is expected Summer 2025. 

Watsonville Rail Trail (Coastal Rail Trail Segment 18)

Segment 18 of the Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail is the 1.2-mile Watsonville Rail Trail, which runs along a former railroad right-of-way in the City of Watsonville.

Santa Cruz to Watsonville

The segment from Santa Cruz to Watsonville should be completed by 2023. 

Parking and Trail Access

The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District system provides access to the trail. Visit the Santa Cruz METRO website to plan your trip.

For those driving, parking is available for a fee at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (100 Beach St).


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