Four River Crossings - Route II
7.3 miles     1400 ft
20 Aug 2011

A fantastic hike through shaded redwoods that requires four river crossings through knee-deep water. Doable only in late summer when water level is low.

Location: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Elevation Profile

Location: along Highway 9, 0.3 miles west of its intersection with Enoch Lane in Santa Cruz, CA 95060 . Parking area is not visible in Google Maps.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: Aug 2011)

Capacity: About 10 cars may be parked here.

Latitude: 37.012371     Longitude: -122.054393

Trip Planning

Trail Maps

» RedwoodHikes Map: Great map showing various river crossings and trails nearby.

» Official Trail Map: High quality trail map with countours and trails clearly shown.

» Redwood Hikes Map: Annotated trail map of San Lorenzo Valley that shows many parks, not just Henry Cowell. This is an excellent map sold by Dave Baselt ($6.95 in Jan 2012).

» PeasePress Map: Trails of Santa Cruz: Excellent quality map showing various parks in the Santa Cruz area.


Crossing #1: This is the deepest crossing. From the parking lot, walk along Rincon Fire Rd. The river is visible and approachable many times, but keep walking until you reach a sign for 'Diversion Dam Trail'. At this sign, turn right towards the river. Cross the river straight ahead. Look for a trail going left, gaining elevation. The trail is Rincon Fire Road. Follow it until it meets Big Rock Hole Trail. Turn right.

Crossing #2: Continue along Big Rock Hole Trail until you reach a sandy river bank. Do not cross the river here. Instead, turn left and walk along the sandy river bank (for about 0.05 miles?) until no further progress is possible. This is where you cross the river. Cross straight towards a trail on the other side.

Crossing #3: This crossing is tricky. (a) Step into the river about 50 (maybe 100 ft) before the trail ends. The river is shallow here. Do not cross straight across. Cross it "diagonally, to the right" towards what appears to be an island in the middle of the river. In August 2013, there was a pile of branches here and pink ribbons tied to branches to guide visitors. After the river crossing, continue along Buckeye Trail to reach Pipeline Rd. Then hop onto Rincon Fire Rd towards the starting point of the hike.

Crossing #4: Turn right on Diversion Dam Road. Within 0.2 miles, the trail ends at a sandy beach next to the river. In some maps, it is marked as 'Frisbee Beach'. Water is fairly deep here. A crossing is possible by hopping over large stones carefully. There is a trail right behind a large rocky structure. So if you cross the river further up, you'd have to come down along the river to find the trail which goes parallel to the river as it flows downstream. The trail is Diversion Dam Trail. There were no signs in August 2013. Follow this trail until it intersects Rincon Fire Road (there is a sign at this junction). Then follow Rincon Fire Road to return to the parking lot on Hwy 9.

A slightly different route is described at RedwoodHikes article.

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