View of Monterey Bay from Sempervirens Point off Highway 9

View of Monterey Bay from Sempervirens Point off Highway 9

About the Santa Cruz Mountains


The Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregion covers an area of 3,592 square kilometers (1387 square miles) on the central coast, bounded on the north by the Golden Gate, on the East by San Francisco Bay and the Santa Clara Valley, on the south by the Pajaro River and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. It includes all of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties and the western part of Santa Clara County.  

The Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council (SCMBC) defines the Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregion as that part of the coast range that extends from the Golden Gate on the north down to the Pajaro River to the South and from The San Francisco Bay and Santa Clara Valley on the East to the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay to the West.  It includes all of this area, all of the watersheds, within these geographic boundaries. It  extends from the ridge tops down to the alluvial fans, brackish/saltwater lagoons, marshes, mud flats and coastal intertidal zones.

This more useful ecosystem-oriented definition permits the consideration of hydrological processes, sediment flows, nutrient cycles, and the movement of species within riparian corridors and plant communities in all of the watersheds within the geographic area of the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Views of the Santa Cruz Mountains

Descriptions of Sub Regions (NW, SW, NE, SE)

Northwest Open Coast Region of the Santa Cruz Mountains (of, from and within)

The open coast watersheds flow into the Pacific Ocean and they are more strongly influenced by the coastal currents, upwelling, fog and storms that come in from the Pacific Ocean. The oceans influence diminishes with distance from the coast and elevation. Many of the larger streams and rivers form seasonal coastal lagoon ecosystems. This open coast area is generally cooler than inland locations on the eastern side of the peninsula. The coastal currents and fog play a large role in the distribution of the animals and vegetation found in these areas. It starts at about the Golden Gate/Baker Beach/Presidio area in San Francisco and down the coast to about the Wilder State Park/Younger Lagoon Watersheds north of Santa Cruz, which roughly mark the northern end of the Monterey Bay and the southern end of the coastal riparian vegetation. Temperatures near the coast are generally mild and daily and seasonal fluctuations are low.

Northeast Region of the Santa Cruz Mountains (of, from, and within)

Southwest Monterey Bay of the Santa Cruz Mountains (of, from and within)


Sandhills of the Santa Cruz Mountains (of, from and within)  (Under construction)


Southeast Region of the Santa Cruz Mountains (of, from and within)

Views of Loma Prieta

Loma Prieta is the tallest mountain in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range being 3806 feet high and is located about 15 miles south of San Jose, California. Donald Clark, in his book Santa Cruz County Place Names, reports that the name is of Spanish-Mexican origin and means “a high chaparral covered point that looks black in the distance”. Loma Prieta is a reference point or land mark for many people in our bioregion and can be seen from many different locations in the greater Monterey Bay area. Equally varied are the many different perspectives in how it is revealed.

Inspired by the book, 100 View of Mount Fuji by Timothy Clark, 2001, Fred McPherson had created this spot on our website to show and honor the various ways that Loma Prieta can be viewed and perceived.