Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls is a 6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Aptos, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
Off the beaten path, The Forest of Nisene Marks is a refreshing retreat from the busy towns and beaches along Highway 1 near Santa Cruz. Its dense second- and third-growth redwood forest rises from near sea level to steep coastal mountains. Drive up Aptos Creek Road to the park entrance. After the park entrance the road quickly become packed dirt but can be driven by to all types of vehicles. Continue on the dirt road to the Porter Family Picnic Area. There is a locked gate here closing the fire trail for vehicles, park here. The trail head is just a few yards beyond the locked gate. Continue north on the fire trail beyond the locked gate, start the tail on the Loma Prieta Grade Trail on the left. In about a 0.5 miles bear to the right at the fork and switch over to Bridge Creek Trail. Follow Bridge Creek Trail all the way to Maple Falls about 3 miles to the falls (6 miles in and out). Note: The park map makes mention of a winter gate on the Aptos Creek Fire road so depending on the time of year you visit the park if this gate is closed you will need to leave your car at the Steel Bridge parking and walk to the Porter Family Picnic Area to start the trail. If this is the case it will add approx. 1 mile each way for a total of 2 miles to the tail. The trail starts out easy and quickly changes to moderate. It goes through dense redwood forest, steep trails, canyons, bridges and a couple of river crossings hopping over rocks. It gets a bit challenging in some points especially towards the end as you get close to the waterfall.
Very nice hike, lots to see all along the way. The waterfall is beautiful but my favorite part were the many creek crossings, so fun! Just be sure when you see the first waterfall coming down the hill on your right, that you go up the hill on your left. We kept going straight through the ravine along the creek and realized the trail didn't continue that way
The trail started out pretty easy and quickly becomes more technical. The trails are marked pretty good, make sure to get a map when you enter the park. The redwood forest is dense and the trail runs narrow along canyons with some river crossings and rock hopping. The hike gets a bit more difficult towards the end but push on to the waterfall, it is amazing and definitely worth the hike. Water levels were low after a long summer but the river and the waterfall were still flowing. Will come back again for sure in the winter. Very exciting hike, We all loved it :)