Garden of Eden
It’s exactly how it sounds: a great, small swimming hole with a fun rope swing and a little beach area where you can lie beneath the trees or bake in the sun. Sometimes you’ll even find a few nudists. So bring some friends and see who can do the best backflip off the swing. Park at Ox Trail turnout on Highway 9 and walk downhill to the train tracks. Head south following the tracks for about a half-mile, then follow the signs and proceed down Eden Trail.
U-Pick at Coastways Ranch
Drive up Highway 1 for about 20 minutes and you’ll find it nestled in, across the street from Año Nuevo. In the fall you can pick your own kiwis and in the spring you can pick your own Olallie berries (a cross between a blackberry, a loganberry and a youngberry). There’s nothing like the taste of fruit right off the vine. It’s all organic, and for a fraction of the price you would pay at Trader Joe’s or New Leaf.
Climb Tree Nine
Come on, man, it’s like tradition, right? Long considered a rite of passage for freshmen, Tree Nine has been testing students’ fear of heights for years. With perfect bare branches to step on, it’s a lot like climbing a ladder. If you make it to the top on a clear day, you get a spectacular view of the bay. You’ve got to do it at least once — even if you’re scared of heights.
Descend down a ladder into a series of natural marble caverns. It’s not a huge underground network of caves, but there are three or four fun caves to get muddy in and to explore. Lots of people go and burn incense in the caves, leaving a pungent aroma that lingers for days afterwards. However, be aware that the caves are home to rare and sensitive species of critters and insects and that any romping you do may have negative impacts on them. For this reason the location hasn’t been disclosed.
It’s been a tradition for as far back as anyone can remember — or at least for a really, really long time. When the first rain of the school year falls, go to Porter College, don’t bring your camera and don’t bring your clothes. No one likes the creepy guy with the video camera standing fully clothed on the sidelines. Get naked, run around and partake in one of UCSC’s finest — and coldest — traditions.
Find a Koi Pond at Pogonip
I’m not going to tell you where it is, because the search is half the fun. When you find it, the 6-by-6-foot concrete box that houses about three dozen fish will be that much better. Located somewhere off the hiking trails in Pogonip, the pond is a picture of serenity, equipped with a little Buddha statue and a quiet that is hard to find anywhere on campus.
Berry Creek Falls
Drive up Highway 1 until you reach Big Basin State Park, right across from Waddel Creek beach. Follow the Berry Creek Falls Trail for six miles underneath ancient redwoods and huge oak trees until you arrive at the first waterfall, pouring down for about 30 feet. Up the trail a little further and you’ll find three more waterfalls. Keep your eyes open for quail, hawks, bobcats, mountain lions and snakes. Be prepared for a four- to six-hour hike, depending on which trail you take.