Explore santa cruz - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
17 days ago

This is the easiest free or “back” entrance to the park, and it’s a nice little trail. Plenty of parking on Vienna/Danube/Wiltshire Dr. It connects to Terrace Trail which is a great little loop. I like to bring my dog this way so I can have her off leash and let her play in the creek, and avoid being seen by any park rangers.

hiking
17 days ago

I did this as a part of a longer loop around all of lower Nisene Marks. The elevation gain is not too intense on this part and you have a great creek crossing in the beginning, so I think it would be fun for kids/families. I see a lot of them by this part of the creek. My dog also loves splashing in the water. There is a picnic table on the far side of the creek. The water is already pretty deep after only the second rain of the season, so I could see it becoming impassable after heavy rains. The fall colors are very pretty now and the forest smells amazing!

most beautiful but sometimes too crowded and unfortunately cars

hiking
1 month ago

A super easy and beautiful hike that winds along Aptos Creek under the shade of bay, oak, laurel, and redwood trees. Park at the Safeway and cross the street into the culdesac (the road that is straight ahead out of the shopping center lot) to walk straight down to the trailhead. You can access Aptos Creek Fire Rd. and lots of other trails in lower Nisene Marks via this route without paying to park.

Beautiful, well maintained trails and a decent workout. My dog loves it too, especially since no bikes allowed on these trails. Nisene Marks holds a special place in my heart, it is just magical.

Trail is slightly confusing or maybe I was confused but overall was an amazing hike. Definitely moderate, not easy and it’s fairly long but worth it. Scenery was absolutely stunning but there is lots of poison oak.

Loved this little trail! Didn't do much research beyond how far of a drive it was, trail distance and elevation gain so the stream crossing and solitude was a very pleasant surprise! Also met some really nice hikers and mountain bikers who came up the other side.

NOTE: there is little to no cell service here. I didn't take a screenshot of the map but fortunately my friend's phone worked. Personally the trail would have been a bit confusing for me without a map with all of the offshoots.

Will definitely come back to explore some of the other joining trails!

This park is just the best. Even on days when you don’t have very much time you can hike a few miles and feel secluded in a beautiful natural setting. If you have the time for an extra not even 2 miles—or if you drive in and park in the area by the last gate—the last push on Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls is absolutely worth it. Lots of creek crossings and some climbing over fallen trees makes for an exciting final leg, and the falls is flowing enough as of mid October to stand under and get refreshed for the trek back. I have been hiking with my dog here off leash for years and years and never once gotten in trouble or had a bad experience with other park users.

Great trail. We decided to park at the Safeway and hike up through the residential neighborhood entrance way. We did the loop and got about 15 miles in. Lots of cool little spots to hang out. I didn’t come across much in the way of good photo spots. Keep your heads up for mountain bikers! We had some on Sunday but they were always very courteous and let us hikers safely go by.

I would recommend downloading the map. My friend and I went on a few paths off the regular trail. You get random service areas too (on Verizon). And even some areas would allow me to use GPS on this app and it could find me pretty well. Bring water too!

lovely redwood home with opportunities to branch to other trails if you want to keep going.

Love it! Pup celebrated her 12th birthday up & back!

Great trail run or run/walk. 650-700ft elevation gain over just under 5 miles keeps it interesting but not too strenous. Some steep climbs that had me winded but mostly rolling ups and downs, on a well maintained trail. trail travels through man different ecosystems/microclimates from golden grassy fields, to oak forest, redwood, and riparian.

Easy access from Harvey West if you are coming from the Eastside.

Loved this trail. Shaded, with shallow streams (in September) that you can cross by stepping on stones.
I talked to the guy at the Olive Springs Quarry across Olive Springs Road from the gate to Hinckley Basin Fire Road, and he told me that even though the signs say no trespassing, you can hike and bike there, but don’t block the gate with your car.

on Terrace Trail

hiking
3 months ago

Wanted nice views and to be able to take my dog. Followed the creek, did hit some fallen trees but nothing to crazy. If your dog likes to swim, it will love the creek. In the beginning there’s a part where the creek is pretty full and my dog just kept running in it.

Kept to the trail areas closest to temples. Love the area so much!

Great hike! Shaded, longish, good incline and dog friendly! My new favorite hike

Great loop and a good challenge on the incline of you’re running. I go here regularly with my dog. If you don’t want to hike the full 6 miles you can go for a nice walk and turn around whenever you feel like. Trail goes along the creek and there’s no incline for the first mile.

Near the top is where the poison oak gets REALLY BAD, to the point where you can’t avoid even if you walk slowly and sideways. Wear pants/bring a long sleeve.

Great trail. Lots of tree coverage. Good amount of bikers.

Very nice hike.
Not too heavily trafficked.

love the view, is very relaxing

walking
5 months ago

One the most beautiful area to walk, run or bike.

Lots of poison oak. Thankfully I was warned how bad it was that I ended up turning around near the top of the hike. Couple of hikers who were wearing pants (I had shorts on) said it was so bad you can’t not help but brush up against it.

It was a beautiful and peaceful trail. Only issue, and probably my bad for not getting a map, is what should have been an easy 5.5-6 mile loop ended up being just over 9 miles. Yup not clearly marked and we went off the trail! My advice...make sure you get a map. Other then that will definitely do it again (with a map)

Great trail but shitty oak up top. Like really bad!!!! Bummer.

on West Cliff Drive

6 months ago

Somewhat crowded, beautiful none the less.

hiking
7 months ago

5/14/2018 I’m house sitting nearby and had to take advantage of having a flat, beautiful place to skate. It was really nice, but it was crowded for a Monday, and obviously on Saturday when I came with my dog it was packed. Also, a lot of the paved walkway is rough for boards that don’t have the right wheels. The street is good though, and on a weekday there aren’t too many cars, especially up closer to Natural Bridges. There is also a beach along the way where you can let your dog off leash before 10 am and after 4 pm. You’re basically in the heart of town here, close to the west side and downtown, so it is good for families with older or younger members. Riding bikes would be fun for kids. The wharf and boardwalk are at the south end and on the north end there is the monarch butterfly preserve, Antonelli Pond and Moore Creek Preserve. Lots to do.

Great trail run this afternoon. The people at Land of Medicine Buddha could not have been nicer when I parked on their road (I did make a donation). The map that they provide at their book shop is actually really helpful as it has landmarks that AllTrails does not (e.g. power lines). I saw no one on the whole run until the last 1/4 Mile. Lots of Poison Oak on top, as reported in other reviews. .

trail running
7 months ago

peaceful, relaxing running path. great views and a few contact highs make for a nice morning run.

Great 3 mike shortcut to the top most view (Sand Point Overlook). It’s very uphill, and follows a fire road through some interesting undeveloped properties.

It begins with a creek crossing (barefoot if it’s running strong). Don’t miss the abandoned Jeep.

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