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Scotts Valley, California
Population: 11,600  City Hall: 831-440-5600

Scotts Valley, California is a beautiful Santa Cruz County city set amongst towering redwood trees.

Located six miles east of the beach in the upland slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Scotts Valley is a picturesque city with scented redwood forests towering toward a deep blue sky. Travelers on business or visiting nearby attractions enjoy its central location six miles east of the City of Santa Cruz, 30 miles southwest of San Jose and 68 miles south of San Francisco. With public bus service to the beach and commuter buses to San Jose, Scotts Valley is a popular residential community, as well. A car rental manager who previously lived in West Hollywood and graduated from UCLA described Valley residents as generally affluent but less "showy" than their Southern California counterparts.

In many ways, Scotts Valley is the quintessential small town with the usual civic clubs, a movie theater and independently-owned shops and restaurants. Yet Silicon Valley looms over the horizon and Highway 17 with an influx and migration of tech businesses spilling into Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz County. Starbucks, for example, is doing very well. There almost always seems to be a line of customers waiting for coffee and tea products in a store that features the same light fixtures, wallpaper and prices as elsewhere in California.   Responding to the needs of its clientele, the shop in Scotts Valley installed four electrical outlets for notebook computers in June 2004.

Half a mile down Scotts Valley Drive, the Scotts Valley Hilton does not appear to offer a wi-fi network currently but is computer friendly and even allows 60 minutes of dial on toll-free calls (subject to change.) While one source said the dot-com bust hurt businesses such as the Hilton, there seems to be ample wealth and healthy tourist crowd to sustain a hotel that looks like a castle (seen in top left photo.)

What is there to do in and around Scotts Valley? Top on the list of local activities is taking a ride on the Beach Train to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It is one of the oldest and most historic lines in California providing an authentic experience that takes you back in time. Located at Roaring Camp five miles east of Scotts Valley in Felton, the route opened in 1875 and was designed to carry picnickers and tourists to the Big Trees and Santa Cruz. Today’s Beach Trains travel through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, down the scenic San Lorenzo River Gorge, across a 1909 steel truss bridge, and through an 1875 tunnel before arriving at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. A round trip excursion takes three hours and costs $20 (approximate) round trip.

While some believe Beach Train is the ultimate experience, Steam Train narrow-gauge excursions to Bear Mountain are equally popular. Roaring Camp's steam engines date from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines. Travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain where you can exit the train to stand in a redwood grove.


Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is adjacent to Roaring Camp and features 20 miles of hiking and riding trails through a forest that looks much the same as it did 200 years ago. The tallest tree in the park is about 285 feet tall, and about 16 feet wide. The oldest trees in the park are about 1400 to 1800 years old. The park has a nature center, bookstore and main park area containing about 1,750 acres of old-growth redwoods. Call: 831-438-2396.


Scotts Valley is named after Hiram Scott, who settled in Santa Cruz and purchased Rancho San Augustin in 1850. He built Scott House in 1853 in Greek Revival Style. Sitting on the green lawn behind City Hall, it is a Santa Cruz County Historical Trust Landmark and is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


When Scotts Valley Civic Center was built in 1983, a variety of artifacts such as hammerstones, finished stone knives, projectile points, spear-heads, microliths and others tools were uncovered.  Scotts Valley site CA-SCR-177 was uncovered utilizing 220 volunteers under the auspices of the Santa Cruz Archaeological Society and the Scotts Valley Historical Society. The project was overseen by Field Director Dr. Robert Cartier of Archaeological Resource Management with site areas directed by Alan Leventhal, Dr. David Fredrickson and Dr. William Hildebrandt.

Scotts Valley site contains one of the longest records of human occupation known for Western North America. The deposit of cultural material at this site provides an unusual opportunity to observe cultural and technological changes over a period of approximately 12,000 years. Well-defined layers in the soil (stratigraphy), have served to preserve cultural materials in their context, sealing them within distinct layers of time. A display case at City Hall on 1 Civic Center Drive contains actual artifacts and historical information.


Scotts Valley community events include many fund raisers such as Art Under the Oaks, an annual celebration held one Saturday usually in August. It is sponsored by the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce. Call: 831-438-1010.