We’re all looking for excuses to ride around Monterey Bay and Aptos Creek gravel fulfills that need.
Just to the east of the county seat Santa Cruz, this town has of discreet population of twenty five thousand tucked in a collection of villages between the coast and hills.
Being on the southern tip of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Aptos shares many of the features seen further up the Pacific with a jagged shoreline coupled with a second growth redwood forest.
We started from the county park right next to the main village which checked the boxes for good bathrooms and ready water.
The first seven miles of this counterclockwise loop is about flowing through the start as it’s a mixture of rollers within farmscapes.
Hitting the “main square” of Corralitos is your last chance for reliable water, although we were able to complete this loop handily with two water bottles without refueling.
Heading north up Eureka Canyon started an eight mile climb that was mainly gradual without any super pitches along the way.
While it’s mostly shaded, the environment changes as you progress from rural farmland to a number of retreats with redwoods nestled within until oak trees lace the top.
Reaching a vague intersection, you continue onto Buzzard Canyon where you soon hit dirt and meander past a gate to get onto Aptos Creek Rd to get your gravel on.
After some rollers, you’ll reach the trailhead for some popular single track attracting mountain bikers, but pulling through is where your downhill adventure begins.
Amazingly, you’ve earned eleven miles of descending through the Nisene Marks State Park with on ideal grade thanks to this transition from a former rail line used by the logging industry that has moderate to gentle grades.
There’s almost so much of it, that you almost wonder if it’ll ever end, but near the bottom you’ll likely come across more cyclists and hikers heading the other way.
Exiting out, it’s just a short jaunt back to the county park where this quick and easy loop will complete.
Good or bad, this is a simple loop without much views or distractions, but nonetheless Aptos gravel is an experience worth it to add to your reperatoire.