Where Waddell Creek meets the sea. Photo by John Pilge: 2010


There was a settlement named Waddell along Waddell Creek listed on a map of 1873. It had a post office from 1890 to 1891 as federal records show it served 130 residents. It continued to appear on maps at least as late as 1907 and possibly later.

Waddell Creek is formed by the joining of East Waddell Creek and West Waddell Creek. From there it flows southwesterly to enter the sea at Waddell Creek Beach. The creek and its branches are entirely within the boundaries of Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Rancho Del Oso State Park.

West Waddell Creek, Starts in Santa Cruz County near the San Mateo County border at 1800 feet elevation. It enters the southeast corner of San Mateo County and continues southwest for just over one mile and re-enters Santa Cruz County. It continues south and west to join East Waddell Creek.

East Waddell Creek is formed by the merging of Blooms Creek and Opal Creek. It flows south and west to join West Waddell Creek and become Waddell Creek. A prominent feature of the East Waddell is Woodwardia Falls.

Waddell Creek Beach is listed on the California State Park website as Waddell Beach.

The Waddell Creek Association is a group of volunteers that help with information about the area. During summer, you can find them at Waddell Beach.

Waddell Creek, near Clark Connection


The beach area was originally named Cañada de la Salud (Gorge of the Health) by the Spanish explorers. They had to stop and spend extra time there due to bad weather (in October). Many were sick and all were wet and tired. They had a lot of blackberries to eat from the area. This change in diet may have made them feel well enough to call the area "Gorge of Health."

William White Waddell built several lumber mills in Santa Cruz County. In 1861 he built a mill, a tramway and a pier in the Waddell Creek area. The mill burned in 1864 and was re-built. In 1875 William Waddell died from injuries suffered in a bear attack. The newer lumber mill burned in 1883.

In 1947 Big Creek Timber Company had a lumber mill in Waddell Creek Canyon. According to company records, the December 1955 storm resulted in five bridges being washed out in the Waddell Creek canyon and resulted in major damages to the operation. This resulted in moving the operation south.


Big Creek Lumber is nearby to the south. Nearest stores are in Davenport (to the south).


Santa Cruz Metro Transit Route 40 makes two trips a day to Waddell Creek Beach. Once after 9am and again just after 5pm.


On old maps it has appeared as Cañada de la Salud, Arroyo de la Salud, Arroyo del Año Nuevo, and Waddells Creek.

USGS survey maps covering Waddell Creek, West Waddel Creek, East Waddell Creek and Waddell Creek Beach include:

sequence ID County Latitude Longitude Ele(ft) Map
1 East Waddell Creek Santa Cruz 370802N 1221604W 82 Franklin Point
2 Opal Creek Stream Santa Cruz 370954N 1221330W 915 Big Basin
3 Timms Creek Trail Santa Cruz 371053N 1221501W 771 Big Basin
4 Waddell Creek San Mateo 370533N 1221636W 0 Point Ano Nuevo
5 Waddell Creek Beach Santa Cruz 370543N 1221642W 39 Point Ano Nuevo
6 West Waddell Creek Santa Cruz 370802N 1221603W 82 Franklin Point

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2012-03-10 21:48:31   Need to know, some relatively well hknown person owned a farm in Wadell Creek valley in the early twentieth century. who was it? —

2012-03-12 00:26:25   Hulda Hoover McLean lived in a home in the Waddell Creek Valley for many years until her fairly recent passing. Her uncle was President Herbert Hoover. McLean wrote some great essays about the Waddell Creek area. —AlexDarocy