The following was written by our Compadres The Van With No Plan. Follow all their adventures, they lead a pretty epic life.
After waking up In our vans outside of a 24hour fitness (they have free showers!) in Santa Cruz we heard about a secret skatepark along the coast of California north of Davenport. Usually by the time we hear about DIY parks like this they have been torn down by the disgruntled property owner with nothing left to skate. All of the results we could find on Google seemed to be pointing in that direction as well. We found articles from 2008 saying the property owners were going to demolish the secret park due to the lack of permission and garbage that had been accumulating on the property. Other articles on Google were showing photos of people skating the park as late as 2015 so we were convinced the secret coastal DIY skate paradise was intact and still welcoming skaters willing to take up the adventure. We had our minds set. After loading up on coffee and making sure we had all of our gear, we hopped in Matt’s van and set our sights north.
For the last few nights we have been staying a few miles north of Santa Cruz on a stretch of highway 1 that offers free parking with ocean views for as far as the eye can see. I wake up and step out of my van feeling instantly refreshed as I stare into the waves and listen to the intensity as they crash their way along the cliffs. Today was going to be a good day.
Our Google searches weren’t coming up with an exact location. Digging deep into forums seeking out any small detail that would be able to point us in the right direction with no luck. Eventually, our phones lost service and we were pulling over every time we saw a dirt road that looked promising enough to possibly lead to the Secret Park we had been searching for. The park is not visible from the road and there are so many vehicles tucked away along highway 1 there was no clear indication of which spot it could be.
After 8-15 stops we pulled over and crossed a chain that had been blocking the dirt road leading to the coast. Walking down the road was a difficult task so getting any vehicle out here would be damn near impossible…..could this be it? Did the owners create a road so treacherous no one would be able to drive to the park? As we walked closer to the cliffs we saw a group of surfers taking a break from the waves and enjoying a few beers at such an incredible spot overlooking their favorite break. “Do any of yall know of a secret skatepark around here?” we ask them after introducing ourselves and chatting about their trek to get to the site.
“You passed it!” They said. “It’s on the opposite side of the road a few miles back”
We turned around and continued our search, this time looking on the correct side of the road. “Stop!” SCREEECCHHHHH! Matt slammed on the brakes and pulled over to a small pull out with a trail leading through the hills. “This has to be it” we kept saying inching our way up the sand path. We saw a few heads but couldn’t hear a sound. Nothing. No skateboards banging against the concrete, no cheering, laughing, nothing. We hoped we weren’t interrupting yet another evening camper.
We found it! And to our surprise we were the only skaters there, but not for too long. The heads we saw happened to be a few photographers who camped at the park all night in order to capture some stunning photos of the stars all night.
The park was originally constructed illegally by a few skaters looking for a place to have a good session away from the crowds. One article I looked at said the guys easily spent over $1,500 on the original construction, and when you show up to the park, it is obvious there was much more spent in supplies let alone the guys time, knowledge, and hard work that was put in. The owners of the park originally had planned to tear the place down due to the trash build up and illegal camping happening because the attention this new park was getting. From my understanding, the property owners and skate park builder had a chat and came to an agreement on the future of the park. As long as it stays clean and people show respect for the property, it will stand. The owners have even graciously set 2 trash cans by the park which they take out every week or 2.
The park is a bit on the rough side but with the right wheels and motivation, you can push hard enough to hit any line. 2 nipples placed strategically in the center of the park allow for an additional boost as you try to clear the doorway or grind your way across the pole jammed in between 2 sketchy quarterpipes. There isnt really any smooth transitions here so you have to be very aware when speeding into these kickers, this is not a city built skatepark. This is DIY. Cracks, rocks, and layers of sand make the skate tricky, luckily for us we brought a broom. Several hundred layers of wax have been applied to the coping over the years.