Nature Rhythms recently discovered some lesser known parks in Santa Cruz County that feature several types of plant communities ranging from redwoods to meadows.
Loch Lomond Recreation Area in Felton stands as our favorite new discovery. It sits in the Santa Cruz mountains and serves two purposes—storing the city of Santa Cruz’s drinking water reservoir, and serving as a place for boating, fishing and hiking in redwood groves, some of which are steep. We’ve tried to get into this rec area a few times before, but either it was closed for the winter season or the line of cars waiting to get in tested our patience. Parking is limited at the boat dock down the hill.
Of course this land was not always owned by a municipality. Historically, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, descendents of Mutsun and Awaswas-speaking peoples, “occupied the greater Monterey Bay Region, thriving for thousands of years and countless generations prior to European contact.” Despite near extermination by the Spanish, the Amah Mutsun people continue to reside in the area today. http://Native-land.ca
Once inside the rec area, our experience exceeded our expectations. This photo blog reveals some of the views and native plants we enjoyed in Loch Lomond’s redwood forest.
You can see two features of a redwood forest below:
On the left, fallen redwoods disintegrate over the creek, returning nutrients to the soil and stream. On the right, the exposed underground of redwoods shows how shallow the roots are, a fact that makes my head spin trying to figure out how 6-foot roots can hold up the tallest trees in the world! The roots intertwine strengthening their foundations, but there must be other structural reasons too.
Getting to Loch Lomond Recreation Area is a bit tricky. Once you’re off Highway 17, you drive through a hilly residential area with narrow roads. At the top of Loch Lomond Way, you’ll find the kiosk to pay the entrance fee to drive into the park. Pay attention to the changing hours and seasons when you make your plans. If you’re not looking to go boating, you can park on one of the many picnic areas adjacent to the road that have plenty of parking surrounded by forest.