Bound for the Sea: Pilkington Creek

Pilkington Creek wends its way to meet the Pacific Ocean at the entrance to Seabright Beach. Photo courtesy of Molly Lautamo.

Pilkington Creek wends its way to meet the Pacific Ocean at the entrance to Seabright Beach. Photo courtesy of Molly Lautamo.

Pilkington Creek is behind the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, which is at 1305 E. Cliff Drive. The creek might be a far cry from its wild and scenic past but, if you look closely, this humble creek tells a story of our connection to the land 500 years ago and reminds us of our responsibility to wisely care for the landscape that we call home.

Pilkington Creek is small, but it is an important part of the Monterey Bay watershed system. Photo courtesy of Vivienne Orgel.

Pilkington Creek is small, but it is an important part of the Monterey Bay watershed system. Photo courtesy of Vivienne Orgel.

Pilkington Creek’s Journey to the Sea

Pilkington Creek is named for Thomas Pilkington, who owned much of the land around the Seabright neighborhood in the late 1800s. The creek extends northward to Broadway, but almost all of its length runs through underground tunnels. It is revealed at Tyrrell Park, which is named for William Tyrrell, who also lived in the Seabright neighborhood in the 1800s. The creek emerges behind the museum from beneath Forbes Street to finish its journey to the ocean at Seabright Beach.

During the rainy season, Pilkington Creek spills out onto Seabright Beach through a culvert and sometimes flows on the surface all the way to the ocean. After it is on the beach, the channel spreads out to more than 10 feet wide, creating a seasonal lagoon that attracts both water-loving children and wildlife.

Pilkington Creek spilling out onto Seabright Beach after a winter storm. Photo courtesy of Molly Lautamo.

Pilkington Creek spilling out onto Seabright Beach after a winter storm. Photo courtesy of Molly Lautamo.

Pilkington Creek Past & Present.

The native people of this area, called the Awaswas,* lived by the seasons, and their diets fluctuated accordingly. You wouldn’t want to refill your water bottle from this creek today, but 300-500 years ago, these native people might have relied on this creek for drinking and cooking water.

Read the rest of the story to learn what the Awaswas people knew about Pilkington that ensured feasting during the rainy season, at mobileranger.com.

Take the Self-Guided Mobile Tour

This piece is part of the Pilkington Creek Tour written by the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Download the Mobile Ranger app with many tours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond at MobileRanger.com.

Like the Content? It’s by and © Mobile Ranger. Check out all our blogposts and our free mobile app with sixteen AppTours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond at www.mobileranger.com. Please like us on Facebook!


Julia Gaudinski


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