A Review of Dog Parks in the Santa Cruz, CA Area

Have you and your dog recently moved to the Santa Cruz area? Would you like to know where you can take your dog for some dog social time? There are three official places in the Santa Cruz area that you can exercise and socialize your dog: Scotts Valley Dog Park, Polo Grounds Dog Park, and Mitchell’s Cove Dog Beach.

Scotts Valley Dog Park is in a great location at 361 King’s Village Road in Scotts Valley, CA. The dog park is located behind a big shopping area and down the street from a bus terminal. Need to bring along your kids? No problem! There is a skate park with public restrooms within view of the dog park. There is a small dog area and a large area. All dogs enter through the same gate. The small dogs go to the left and all others to the right. The small dog area is one of the biggest we’ve seen. There is a hose, bowl and wading pool for the dogs’ hydration and cooling needs. If you want some shade, there are canopies set up and plastic chairs to sit in. The Sana Cruz Pugs and People Group meets there every other month on the 3rd Sunday (they switch between Scotts Valley and Polo Grounds). Our pug doesn’t seem to like running on the wood chips (she spent the majority of her first year visiting a grassy dog park). The last time we were there a police officer showed up to handle a disturbance that had occurred before we arrived. Apparently, there had been a rather heated argument between two small dog owners. It’s good to know that they respond.

Polo Grounds Dog Park is at 2255 Huntington Ave in Aptos , CA. This park is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s in a beautiful location. Polo Grounds also features a small dog area, and a large dog area. There are two entrances. One goes straight into the large dog area, the other has the option to go to either area. There are dog water fountains and a shade canopies set up in the small dog area. For the owners, there’s a porta-potty by the parking lot. This park is also wood chips. The large dog area gets a bit muddy after a rain. You are also allowed to walk your dog (on leash) on the paths outside of the fenced area. I have heard they are strict to enforce the leash and licensing laws at that park, although I’ve not seen any law enforcement.

Our pug’s favorite place of the three is Mitchell’s Cove Dog Beach. It’s on West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA between Almar and Woodrow. There’s a cement and steel stairway down from the sidewalk to the beach. The beach is legally allowed to have dogs off leash between sunrise and 10am, and then again from 4pm to sunset. Obviously, the dogs get more legal off leash time in the warmer months of the year. (I keep adding the word “legal” because dogs are often off leash outside these times; I’ve yet to see it enforced.) The beach is pretty well walled in by the cliffs, with the only real access being the stairway. I have, however, seen one adventurous dog go down and up the cliff side. The downsides to this dog beach: you need to check the tides before you go or you may find there’s no beach, and at times rotting seaweed can be a smelly problem.

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