Arana Gulch

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Arana Gulch is a creek and landform that forms part of the southeastern boundary of the city of Santa Cruz, California. The creek begins in the Santa Cruz Mountains and flows southwest into Monterey Bay into what was once called Woods Lagoon, now the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor.

Hiking trail on Arana Gulch area.

Arana Gulch is named after Jose Arana, who came to Alta California in 1834 with the Hijar-Padres colonization group.[1] Arana was the grantee of the Rancho Potrero Y Rincon de San Pedro Regalado (now the Potrero and Harvey West neighborhoods of northern Santa Cruz) in the year 1842. Sometime after that date, Arana moved to the area that now bears his name.[2] Prior to California statehood, Arana Creek was the dividing line between lands assigned to the Villa de Branciforte (to the west) and those of Rancho Arroyo del Rodeo.

The Arana Gulch open space parcel is mostly the former Hagemann farm, also called Live Oak Ranch. Frederick Hagemann was an early immigrant to this area from Germany. The Hagemann house (older section dates from 1860s, later addition from 1885) still stands on a remainder parcel adjacent to the open space.[3] Cattle once roamed the pasture and were housed in a large barn, which no longer remains.

Arana Gulch open space[edit]

The City of Santa Cruz has created a public park from this large parcel that lies mostly on the west side of Arana Gulch, adjacent to and upstream from the Santa Cruz Harbor, and maintains Arana Gulch Open Space as a public open space.[4] The Arana Gulch open space is part of the "greenbelt" established in 1979 to mostly surround the city. The Arana Creek watershed is a groundwater resource for Santa Cruz County.

The open space includes meadows (former farmland), California oak woodland, and the riparian zones along Arana Gulch and Hagemann Gulch. Trails for hikers and bicyclists access the park from the upper harbor parking lot off of Brommer Street and from Mentel Ave. and Agnes St. in Santa Cruz on the north side.

In January 2015, new, three-branched paved fully accessible pedestrian and bicycle trails were opened connecting Broadway in Santa Cruz east to Brommer Street in unincorporated Live Oak via a new bridges over Hagemann Gulch and Arana Creek, as well as a pathway connecting northward to Mentel Ave. in Santa Cruz.[5] This connection between the City of Santa Cruz and the urbanized, unincorporated area of Live Oak was originally planned as a four-lane road - the "Broadway-Brommer Connection".

Natural features[edit]

Arana Gulch supports a variety of vegetation and wildlife, including the endangered species Santa Cruz tarplant (Holocarpha macradenia).[6]

To support the migratory monarch butterfly population, native tarplant growth has increased via the return of black angus cows who serve as a disruptive resident as they stomp and eat the competing flora. see Arana Gulch Annual Report (2016)

Arana Gulch Black Angus Cows (2017)

It has been observed at least since 1990 that a ravine of Arana Gulch appeared to indicate headward erosion due to concentration of surface runoff.[7] The lower reaches of Arana Gulch receive runoff from generally urbanized areas of Santa Cruz.


  1. ^ C. Alan Hutchinson, An Official List of the Members of the Hijar-Padres Colony for Mexican California, 1834, The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Aug., 1973), pp. 407–418, University of California Press
  2. ^ Clark, Donald Thomas, and Sandy Lydon (2008). Santa Cruz County place names: a geographical dictionary. Scotts Valley, Calif: Kestrel Press. pp. 9–02. Retrieved June 2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ Chase, John, Judith Steen, and Daniel Platt Gregory. 2005. The sidewalk companion to Santa Cruz architecture, p.200. Santa Cruz, Calif: Museum of Art & History.
  4. ^ Santa Cruz, California, Parks and Recreation Department: Arana Gulch Archived June 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-06-03.  Arana Gulch trail system map
  6. ^ Holocarpha macradenia fact sheet (2006)
  7. ^ Earth Metrics (1990), Environmental Impact Report for the Community Hospital Outpatient Surgical Center, Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, California, Report No, 10152, filed with the California State Environmental Clearinghouse, January, 1990

External links[edit]