Soquel is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Cruz County, California. The population was 9,644 at the 2010 census.
The name Soquel has a somewhat unknown history. The Ohlone Indians were the native tribe in the area and the Spanish phonetic rendering of their word for the creek which runs through the community was Osocalis, which Americans eventually morphed into Soquel.
The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolà expedition, passed through the area on its way north, camping at one of the creeks on October 16, 1769. The expedition diaries don't provide enough information to be sure which creek it was, but the direction of travel was northwest, parallel to the coast.
Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi, traveling with the expedition, noted in his diary that, "We stopped on the bank of a small stream, which has about four varas of deep running water. It has on its banks a good growth of cottonwoods and alders; on account of the depth at which it runs it may be that it cannot be utilized to water some plains through which it runs. Translator Herbert Bolton speculated that the location was Soquel Creek.
Martina Castro was granted Rancho Soquel by Alta California governor José Figueroa in 1833. Martina was one of the daughters of Santa Cruz fundadore José Joaquín Castro, who came as a boy with his family to Alta California from Mexico with the second De Anza expedition in 1775. Several of Martina's Californio brothers and sisters also became rancheros.
Anna Jean Cummings Park is the largest park in Soquel, with playfields for soccer, baseball, and softball, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a large open space of coastal prairie terrace. It is operated by the Santa Cruz County Parks Department. Others include Richard Vessey, Soquel Lions, and Willowbrook Park. Another park without an official name is under development on a property once called "The Farm". The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County also owns two protected lands on Fairway Drive, the Greenspace Garden and the Fairway Drive Coastal Prairie Terrrace.