Wilder Ranch occupies a vaguely south facing hillside near Santa Cruz (it abuts the University of California at Santa Cruz campus). The park was once a ranch and the original buildings are maintained as an interpretive site - they have goats, sheep, chickens, the usual working farm stuff. There is always an assortment of young children at varying levels of excitemenent.
Away from the buildings there are a large number of trails, ranging from fireroads to foot paths. All of the trails are open for mountain bikes. Many of the trails are in the open, with no trees around to shelter you from the sun.
Wilder Ranch is one of my favorite places for mountain biking. You begin at the lowest elevation, then can make a greuling climb up to the highest area and coast back down to the starting point. There are many singletrack loops which provide variety for the rides.
Lots of poison oak along the small shady trails.
Wilder Ranch is located on Highway 1, a few miles west of Santa Cruz (one mile west of Western Drive). Look for the parking lot on the coast side of the highway.
USGS 7.5' Topo Maps
600 Ocean Street