A Natural History Field Guide to Santa Cruz’s Pogonip

The redwood forest interpretive graphic that is part of the Pogonip Field Guide by Kylie Smith.
The redwood forest interpretive graphic, part of A Field Guide to the Communities of Pogonip, by Kylie Smith.

The Pogonip is a beautiful city greenbelt located in Santa Cruz, California, on the eastern edge of the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) campus. It contains a variety of plant and animal communities, or habitats, that have been shaped greatly by human impact over the years. Up until the purchase of the land in 1988 by the City of Santa Cruz, the Pogonip had been used for many different things, including a golf club, a polo club, residential estates, and a campground.

Golf players flock to the beautiful golf club at Pogonip, circa 1900. Photo courtesy of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.
Golf players flock to the beautiful golf club at Pogonip, circa 1900. Photo: Courtesy of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
Photo: Kylie Smith
Find this guide at the Golf Club Drive and Spring Street entrances into Pogonip. Photo: Kylie Smith

There are many natural wonders to be discovered within the Pogonip: Tiny animals, flowers and fungi to look at closely, and predators and vistas to admire from afar. The Pogonip is well worth a visit and, if you go, there is a new publication titled A Field Guide to the Communities of Pogonip. I created this guide as part of my senior project requirement to graduate from UCSC as an Environmental Studies major.

Shortly after moving to Santa Cruz to be a student, I found the Pogonip and immediately loved exploring its trails and learning about the plant and animals that live there. The field guide is the combination of my love for natural history, illustration, and the Pogonip. My hope is that the science and art will inform, inspire, and help you make a personal connection to the natural inhabitants and ecosystems in this diverse greenbelt. The guide represents many months of planning, researching, grant proposal writing, illustrating, and a huge amount of help from the Ken Norris Center for Natural History.

What’s in the Guide

The guide contains mural-style illustrations of the plant and animal species within each of the four main habitats of the Pogonip: Redwood Forest, Meadows, Mixed Evergreen Forest, and the Riparian communities.

The meadow interpretive graphic that is part of the Pogonip Field Guide by Kylie Smith.
The meadow interpretive graphic, part of A Field Guide to the Communities of Pogonip, by Kylie Smith.

Written stories and information within each mural encourage interaction with the surrounding ecosystem. You will discover the life story of the common Buckeye butterfly, a friendly meadow dweller, such as this example of the text from the Meadows community section:

“The life of a Buckeye begins as a tiny egg laid on a leaf of its host plant. Can you find it’s caterpillar in this drawing? (Hint: Look in a corner.) As a caterpillar, it eats and sheds its outer cuticle when it outgrows its skin. Eventually, it finds a spot to hang and form a chrysalis (see upper right). Within the chrysalis, the Buckeye transforms from a pea soup-like liquid into an adult butterfly. Once emerged, the adult pumps liquid into its wings. They harden in the sun and are flight ready! The common Buckeye is often seen fluttering low to the ground. Watch the adults suck up nectar from flowers with their proboscis.”

Similar illustrated entries cover the brown creeper, a secretive bird that lives among the redwoods; the Douglas iris, which grows within the Riparian community; and the slender salamander that lives in the Mixed Evergreen Forest.

This juvenile Ensatina is a type of salamander. Look for them nestled under logs in the moist soil along the Rincon Trail in the Redwood Forest community. Be cautious when rolling logs to look for hidden creatures and remember to always roll the log towards yourself so you have that barrier for protection and any potential dangerous animals can escape away from you. Photo: Kylie Smith
This juvenile Ensatina is a type of salamander. Look for them nestled under logs in the moist soil along the Rincon Trail in the Redwood Forest community. Be cautious when rolling logs to look for hidden creatures and remember to always roll the log toward yourself so you have that barrier for protection and any potential dangerous animals can escape away from you. Photo: Kylie Smith

The guide also includes a map that shows the locations of hiking trails and each habitat within the Pogonip. In case you get confused about exactly which habitat you are in, there is also a learning guide that helps you locate yourself within a specific habitat.

Liverwort along the creek bed of the Fern Trail. It is a bryophyte, along with mosses, and typically grows fairly flat on rocks by water. Photo: Kylie Smith
Liverwort along the creek bed of the Fern Trail. Bryophytes, along with mosses, typically grow fairly flat on rocks by water. Photo: Kylie Smith

A Field Guide to the Communities of Pogonip, is available as a pamphlet that contains illustrations with written details and stories that can inform both children and adults. It’s available at both the Golf Club Drive and Spring Street entrances to Pogonip. You can also view the field guide online and download a pdf version.

A slightly camouflaged red admiral butterfly rests and soaks in the sun upon a fallen branch found along the Fern Trail in the Mixed Evergreen Forest community. This insect has a very similar life cycle to the common Buckeye butterfly. Photo: Kylie Smith
A slightly camouflaged Red Admiral butterfly rests and soaks in the sun upon a fallen branch found along the Fern Trail in the Mixed Evergreen Forest community. This insect has a lifecycle that is very similar to the common Buckeye butterfly. Photo: Kylie Smith



About The Author

Kylie Smith

Kylie Smith is a student finishing her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies at University of California Santa Cruz. She loves natural history, anything involving the outdoors, and illustration. She plans to continue working on her illustrations and to hopefully work in the field of environmental education.

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4 Comments

  1. Joan Gilbert Martin
    Joan Gilbert Martin

    What a delightful and beautifully illustrated field guide. I was only surprised that Kylie did not refer to the book “Pogonip, Jewel of Santa Cruz.” It provides a well-researched history of Pogonip, as well as a guide to the trails and how they relate to that history.

    Reply
    1. Ranger Gaudinski

      Thank you Joan. I think Kylie was focusing on the plants and animals and did not have an appropriate space in her guide to add a book reference. I however, totally agree “Pogonip, Jewel of Santa Cruz” is a great resource for Pogonip history and I recommend it highly.

      Mobile Ranger has two other posts focusing on the human history of Pogonip and these both reference “Pogonip, Jewel of Santa Cruz.”
      Pogonip: Lime Kilns, Secret Notes, and Questionable Koi
      Pogonip : The Cowell Family, Polo, and a Poltergeist

      Reply
  2. Pingback: SANTA CRUZ: Pogonip | Bay Area Itineraries

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