Emma McCrary Trail

On a foggy morning in Santa Cruz California my friend @sasquatchcanyon guided me through the Emma McCrary Trail. The sun still down, headlamps on, pedaling through the darkness as our lights pierced the dense coastal fog. As we passed the trail head we were quickly swallowed by a dense canopy of lush redwood trees. Our lights struggled to illuminate the trail; there is nothing like learning a new trail in the darkness of Redwoods and Coastal Skies. Nothing. Emma_McCrary_Trail_05

Emma McCrary is a 1.5 mile muti use trail built by the Parks Department, the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and of course the help of hundreds of volunteers. The trail head starts on Golf Club Drive and connects with the Rincon Trail that leads up to the University of Santa Cruz.

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"Drew designed the Emma McCrary trail to sustain winter rains and heavy traffic by various users. Meandering through some of the prettiest parts of the park, the trail design employs frequent grade reversals, a low average grade, numerous rollers and cambered turns to control speed and maximize sight distances while making the trail enjoyable for all levels of users.” - MBOSC


I rode Emma on a Cyclocross bike dozens of times before I got my hands on a Mountain Bike. The trail is really suited for all kinds of bikes. Obviously the CX bike excels up the climbs making Emma a great place for Cyclocross racers to train. I could do hill repeats there all day it’s just so damn fun. Though nothing beats floating down Emma on a bike with suspension. The trail is heavily used so it’s littered with break bumps and ruts.

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The earlier you ride Emma the better. Like I said before it’s a heavily used trail and on the weekends it’s just a zoo. The trail is used to connect with the Ricon Trail, UCSC and Wilder. I like to roll in around 8am as the sun is rising, headlights on, beat the crowd and enjoy the stillness of nature.


If you do decide to head out pre sunrise make sure to bring a good light and watch out for any homeless people that might be waking up in the woods. Years ago that entire forested area was littered with junkies giving it the nickname Heroin Hill. Though the trail has definitely pushed those junkies further down the tracks I’ve occasionally run into some in the early morning. So make sure someone knows where your going and stay alert.

For more stories like this make sure to explore Broken and Coastal and Pedal Often.