Every time we visit, Santa Cruz County gets more and more dog-friendly. And this year there are several new opportunities to bark about. Tops among them: As of a couple of years ago, dogs have a place to hike with their people at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, where they previously were confined to campsites and picnic areas. The North Escape Road isn’t a trail, exactly, but it’ll do: The former fire evacuation road, surrounded by redwoods, provides for a 7-mile round-trip trek on a paved surface that parallels Opal Creek for much of the way.
Also new on the dog-friendly front is a multi-use park near the entrance to New Brighton State Beach in Capitola. A skateboard park and a dog park are the prominent features at the new spread. Ozzi's Memorial Dog Park (one fenced area for small dogs, another for large dogs) commemorate the life of Joshua Raine Lavin, who was killed on Highway 1 while crossing the road with his faithful Ozziet.
Not far away, in Soquel Village, dogs who don’t mistake bocce balls for tennis balls are welcome to join you, other visitors and locals as well at the new Heart of Soquel Park, a kind of town square intended to serve as a gathering place for both people and pups. The plaza hugs Soquel Creek and provides attractive places for you to walk, sit, dog-watch—and play bocce ball.