LOCATION: Westside Santa Cruz, between Delaware Avenue and Highway 1
LAND TYPE: Pond (7 acres), fed by Moore Creek, with a surrounding riparian habitat and trails
USES: Public recreation, wildlife viewing, self-guided historical tours
ACCESS: Open to the public from sunrise to sunset, EVERY DAY!
OWNED BY: Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, since 1989
Walk Dogs, Fish, Kayak
This pond is a wonderful spot for dog-walking, biking, and fishing (be sure to secure proper permits if you plan to fish!). With two boat ramps for kayaking—or other non-motorized boating—and a fishing dock, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the serenity of the pond. There are also trails on either side of Antonelli Pond, and a future boardwalk is planned so that visitors can one day circumnavigate the property.
Some things Legal, Some things Not
Antonelli Pond has a rich past. Before the Land Trust acquired the property in 1989, it had hosted a great deal of business endeavors and hobbies. What was once a dairy farm owned by the Moore family, became the San Vicente Lumber Company sawmill in the early 1900’s. The Ocean Shore Railroad was used to transport timber from Santa Cruz County’s north coast to the site. During Prohibition, the boiler house was used as a moonshine distillery and a speakeasy was built there. The sawmill was an eye-catching backdrop for a handful of silent films as well!
Flowers and Food
From moonshine distillery to mushroom factory, the sawmill’s boiler room was multi-purpose. In the 1950s, artichokes and begonias were grown on the property. In fact, Antonelli was part of the original west coast artichoke capital that led to Half Moon Bay. Antonelli’s begonia farm made history, as an establishing force of the annual Begonia Festival and Parade in Capitola Village (1952).
Cleaner Pond, Safer Access
We lost Jeff Helmer in 2014. He was caretaker of Antonelli Pond and Byrne-Milliron Forest for 27 years. We will miss him and the mark he left on these lands. He sparked the evolution towards a safer and more beautiful access experience. In the fall of 2014, our stewardship team picked up where he left off by conducting a cleanup of the property, cutting back brush and removing trash. The project’s main goals were to restore a healthy riparian habitat and to make access safer.
An Abundance of Wildlife
Birds soaring overhead, ducklings swimming in their mother’s wake, and frogs calling out for a mate, the pond is full of wildlife. Bird clubs often spend early mornings here, checking off their species lists (over 250 bird species frequent the pond!). The California Red-legged frog, a federally threatened species, also breeds at Antonelli. The Land Trust hosts an annual volunteer day for habitat restoration. See what’s coming up on our events page.
A Benefit of Membership
Since 2012, Antonelli Pond has been host to our Fall Member Fest. Spending the early evening with us, members enjoy dinner, mingling with friends, and dancing to the tunes of local musicians. There are games for the kiddos too! This is just one way we can say “thank you” for supporting our work—because we can’t do it without you!
Our stewardship team will continue work improving Antonelli Pond, and maintaining it as one of our defacto public parks. We plan to enhance the picnic areas, fishing docks, and trails already in place. There’s even talk of an outdoor amphitheater—we dream BIG sometimes! In the meantime, I hope you’ll get out there and visit this hidden gem on Santa Cruz’s Westside!