Quail Hollow Ranch County Park

800 Quail Hollow Road, Felton, CA

Features

  • Hiking & Equestrian Trails
  • Pond (No Fishing)
  • Picnic Area
  • Ranch House
  • Reservable Event Venue
  • Educational Interpretive Signs
  • Horse Boarding
  • Santa Cruz Mountains Sandhills Habitat
  • Vista Point
  • Agents of Discovery App
  • Wildlife Viewing

Park Hours

Sunrise to sunset

Restroom

Yes, not ADA-compliant.

Parking

Small dirt parking lot. Room for horse trailers.

Quail Hollow Ranch Trail MapPDF

 

Park Office Trailhead:

Trailhead sign is on the far side of the lawn behind the visitor center. Walk East from the picnic tables or from parking lot on driveway; house on your left; barns & corral on your right; watch for Trails map for trailhead next to the old/collapsed blacksmith shop.

Discovery Loop Trail
(1 mile, 150 ft elevation gain)

An almost-flat mile, 30 - 40 minutes. You will discover Mixed Evergreen, Ponderosa Pine, Willow Riparian, and Coast Live Oak forests, Sand parkland, California mixed and Maritime chaparral, Grassland, Pasture, Eucalyptus grove, and Pond communities. Lupines bloom on the east side in late spring just past the stables if you take a clock-wise stroll. You may find turtles, ducks, geese and occasionally, other aquatic birds on or near the pond. The westside is boggy after rains, and generally offers shade and a view of Quail Hollow Creek. Hikers and equestrians. Easiest trail to keep social distancing. Easiest hike with a stroller.

Italian Trail & Lower Chaparral Trail Loop
(1 mile, 200 ft elevation gain)

An easy stroll. You will find many old Oaks, and plenty of shade for hot days. Includes Mixed Evergreen, and Coast Live Oak forests, Eucalyptus grove, California mixed chaparral, Grassland, and Pasture communities. The Italian trail was built by the Bonetti brothers where they had two cabins which were washed away in the 1982 flood. On the Lower Chaparral, you’ll pass the remains of an old water tank, with its corrugated steel roof. Hikers and equestrians. Easy to keep social distancing.

Woodrat Trail to Sunset Vista, continuing on Sunset Trail + Lower Chaparral or Italian Trail Loop
(2.5-3 mile, 500-600 ft elevation gain)

A moderate, classic Quail Hollow hike. Offers the best views in the park (4+ vistas), both sun and shade, benches, and picnic tables. This trail includes nine of our fifteen plant communities, including mixed Evergreen, Coast Redwood, Dwarf Redwood, Knobcone Pine, Coast Live Oak, and Ponderosa Pine forests, plus Sand Parkland, mixed Chaparral, and Eucalyptus Grove communities. Plus, great wildflowers in the spring, including Lupine on the Lower Chaparral section. If you take the spur hike to the top of Sunset and the Italian trail option, it's 3 miles. Skip the spur and take the Lower Chaparral for a 2.5 mile version. Hikers-only on Woodrat, joined by equestrians on the Sunset and Chaparral sections.

Woodrat Trail to Sunset Vista Point – Out and Back
(2.6 mile, 540 ft elevation gain)

Moderate hike with a mix of shade at the bottom and sun as you go higher. Best wildflower trail; combined with great vistas. Includes five of our fifteen plant communities, including Eucalyptus Grove, Mixed Evergreen, Ponderosa Pine, and Coast Live Oak forests, and mixed Chaparral communities. Hikers only on the Woodrat, joined by equestrians at the very top.

Woodrat Trail to Woodrat Vista Point – Out and Back
(1.1 mile, 250 ft elevation gain)

Easy – moderate stroll, though you will be walking up and down hill. Shortest hike in the park to a great view (at the Woodrat Vista Point). Same plant communities as Woodrat to Sunset Vista Point trail. Hikers-only trail. If you have less than an hour and you want a view, this is it.

Horse Boarding

County Parks offers an opportunity to rent one of the twelve horse stalls at the historic Quail Hollow Ranch located in Felton, California. Nestled deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this 300-acre historic horse ranch and nature preserve is home to 15 unique habitats, 4.5 miles of equestrian trails and a large arena.

Wedding Reservations

Quail Hollow Ranch is a charming ranch of historical and ecological significance. The ranch was once the home of the Lane family who owned Sunset Magazine from 1929-1991. The park sits on ecologically rare habitats with endemic wild flowers and abundant wildlife. Your reservation includes the exquisite ranch house and spacious lawn which offers scenic views of an orchard and the forested Santa Cruz Mountains. This location is well-suited for outdoor ceremonies and receptions.

Outdoor Class Permits

Whether it’s fitness, tai chi, plein air painting or any other low impact outdoor recreational activity, County Parks offers various park sites for you to teach your outdoor classes.

Parties & Events Reservations

Quail Hollow Ranch can be rented for private celebrations. Your rental includes the exquisite ranch house and spacious lawn which offers scenic views of an orchard and the forested Santa Cruz Mountains.

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NATURAL HISTORY

The Geological Foundation

Once upon a time, this land was under water, part of an ancient ocean, which uplifted to form the Santa Cruz Mountains about three million years ago. The silt, sand, and mud that had been deposited in that shallow sea later turned into the shale, sandstone, and mudstone that make up Quail Hollow today. Hiking the park trails, one becomes aware of the sandy soils that have been eroded from the Santa Margarita sandstone – an important foundation for many habitats as well as an aquifer for the San Lorenzo Valley.

Habitats Reflecting a Unique Place

The diversity of Quail Hollow is mirrored in the patchwork of 15 habitats that are located in this small, secluded valley. They range from the aquatic environment of the pond and surrounding riparian ecosystems to the hot, dry chaparral and unique sandhills habitat. Mixed evergreen forests, redwoods, and grasslands round out some of the other habitats found in the park. We even have the largest Red Willow in the U.S. (next to the pond).
One of the unique aspects of Quail Hollow is the number of rare plants and animals that make this valley their home. Plants like the endangered Ben Lomond spine flower and the threatened Silver-leafed manzanita line the trails here, making one question their sensitive status. They are both found in the park's sandhills habitat, marked by the characteristic sandy soils and scattered ponderosa pine – an ecosystem located only in Santa Cruz County and no where else in the world! Other sensitive species that are found at Quail Hollow include: the Santa Cruz Wallflower, Ben Lomond buckwheat, Curley-leaved monardella, Santa Cruz monkeyflower, Mount Hermon June beetle, Zayante Banned-winged grasshopper, and Western pond turtle.

CULTURAL HISTORY

Indigenous Peoples and Rancho Zayante

If you traveled back in time 500 years, you would be immersed in the Ohlone culture. Although we do not know much about the tribelets that lived in and around what is present-day Quail Hollow, the Indigenous people of the valley had a major role in maintaing the abundant game and numerous edible plants like the oak acorn that was so important to their diet. The local Rancho Zayante's northern boundary can be found in the valley.

Kenville Homestead & Sunkissed Ranch

The first settler occupants to this land were Joseph and America Kenville who homesteaded 44 acres in 1866. Along with their 9 children, they began a 70-year farming tradition of growing everything from apples to melons. The Williams family bought the property next followed by the Grunigs who gave the farm its first recorded name: Sunkissed Ranch.

The Lane Family

What does Sunset Magazine have in common with Quail Hollow? The Lane family. Larry and Ruth Lane bought this failing magazine in 1928, eventually turning it into the popular publication that it is today; and bought the ranch in 1937, turning it into a thriving horse ranch. They also gave the property a new name: Quail Hollow Ranch. At first the Lanes used the ranch as a vacation retreat, visiting and entertaining guests on weekends and holidays. But the ranch also served the magazine by becoming the site of test gardens and a test kitchen. The August 1948 issue featured the barns and in 1952 they began remodeling the ranch house in a way that only Sunset could imagine. Although the house was never featured, it reflected the ideas set forth in the magazine.

From Private to Public Hands

The Owen family bought the ranch in 1957, continuing the ranching tradition and later selling to Santa Clara County Office of Education. Santa Clara planned to develop an outdoor education site but was stalled when Prop 13 passed in the mid 1970s. They eventually sold the ranch to Santa Cruz County Parks in 1986. As a County Park, Quail Hollow enjoys a unique purpose as a nature preserve rather than the more common county recreation site.

Quail Hollow in the News

Accessibility

We are working on gathering information about accessibility at all County parks and facilities.
Check back here soon for more information.

To learn about County Parks' commitment to accessibility and inclusion and find accessible County parks and facilities,
see our Accessibility & Inclusion page here.