hiking

forest

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river

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waterfall

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park offers rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet. Once the site of logging operations until the 1920s, visitors can still find evidence of logging operations, mill sites and trestles in the park. The land was donated to the state by the Marks family in 1963. With over 30 miles of trails, hiking, jogging, and biking are some of the activities to be enjoyed here. Picnic tables and barbecue pits are available. A trail camp is located six miles from the nearest parking lot. Camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact the park for more information. This park is on land that was clear-cut during a forty-year logging frenzy (1883-1923). When the loggers left the Aptos Canyon, the forest began to heal itself and now the scars grow fainter with each passing year. The Forest of Nisene marks is a monument to forest regeneration and the future - it is a forest in the state of becoming. Dogs are allowed only along the entrance road and in the picnic areas and must be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times. Park open Sunrise to Sunset.

It was worth it to get there early: get a good parking spot and beat the crowd to the falls! It was a lovely hike, and I was lucky enough to get a bit of solitude at the falls. There was a decent bit of water, even though it's been a while since the last rain. I'll definitely be coming back!

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.

on Porter Trail

hiking
17 days ago

Some downed trees and 2 notices of active bee-yellow jacket nests. 2 easy stream crossings. Weeds encroaching on trail. Check for ticks!

the old railroad portion was beautiful!

The dirt road in was not rough at all. You do have to get there early as parking near the gate was almost full around 10:30am. From the parking lot, we walked straight to the gate where the trail begins. We took a wrong turn at the Porter House Site, veering down and to the right instead of staying left and continuing uphill on the Loma Prieta Grade. Thankfully, we ran into someone who brought their map that the ranger gives you at the park entrance (entrance fee is $8). We crossed the creek 12 times on the way in. The trail was a little muddy in a couple spots but it’s not bad. There were a few places where we had to scramble over rocks. The falls are about a mile past the Bridge Creek Historic Site. Definitely plan on getting into the water and under the falls—super refreshing even if it’s a little chilly!

All in all, we had a great time on the hike and it was a mostly shaded trail. Do bring bug spray as there are a decent number of mosquitos and watch out for poison oak.

Absolutely beautiful! Lots of rich lush foliage. Stays cool in the summer and plenty of shade for pleasant hiking. The array of birds and babbling creak provides a very peaceful atmosphere. Make sure to keep an eye out for poison oak.

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.

6/22/18: Aptos Creek Trail remains impassable—If you are up for the 15-16 mile round trip detour (my track said 17.9, but I parked as far as the main entrance station), the falls is absolutely beautiful and secluded right now. I stayed for a couple of hours, laying on the smooth rocks and swimming beneath the cascade, which was a nice reward for the grueling trek up. Surprisingly not very buggy, but as always, check yourself and furry friends for ticks! I might do this again soon and make it an overnight by camping at the West Ridge Trail camp. There are a few large downed trees to scramble over and some overgrowth as you get closer to the falls, but my dog and I handled it with no problems. I took Donut Trail to Big Slide to get off the main road on the way up, but I wouldn’t recommend it in the uphill direction, it was killer, narrow ankle twisting single track up a really steep grade. Lots of mountain bikers as usual, but all very friendly and courteous of my off leash dog.

Lots of poison oak on the return route. AllTrails suggests parking at the trail entrance but to shave off a mile or two you can continue to drive the paved road until it dead ends and start the hike from there.

Good for hiking, family gathering and must visit.

Did this in 3hr 25min, but started at the second parking lot on the way in, I believe it was 12mi round trip.

I run and hike quite often, but the last 2mi to the Overlook got me huffing and puffing.

Beautiful hike on the way up, but like others have said the second half is just a fire road.

The last mile of the trail is the only real interesting part and requires some careful hiking as well. The falls had decent water considering the last rains were a month ago.

Also you don't need a 4x4 to go to the actual trailhead which is a mile ahead of what the app tells you. I wish I had taken it instead of parking early since hiking that part was really not worth it.

Beautiful trail! Keep going until you reach the end of the valley where the falls are - you’ll know when you’ve made it. The trail involves lots of ups and downs and scrambles over rocks and trees but is well travelled. The falls are delicate and lovely and there’s a great fallen tree for a bench. A great little hike!

Trail is still very much impassable - the bridge work-around is no longer there so there isn’t a way to continue on the trail. If you want to see Five Finger Falls you’ll have to take the long way up and around - you can access the trail and falls further up from Aptos Creek Fire Road to White’s Lagoon Road to Big Slide Trail, but it’s steep and much longer.

Note: when they get this trail fixed up you can hike it from Porter Family picnic area in summer which will cut out about 4 miles of what AllTrails says the round trip is.

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. .

Love this place! Makes you feel like your in another world. Has good trails to bomb down if you can make it to the top!!

hiking
4 months ago

This is my go-to trail for any visitors. Short, sweet, and there’s a 1000 year old downed tree you can walk on!

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.

Lots of PO this time of year. Otherwise beautiful redwoods and a nice up and back. Take your map. No trail markings. We started left and came back through centre.

Loved this hike. It was tough, but BEAUTIFUL!!!

Beautiful, peaceful trail!

hiking
4 months ago

We hiked this trail on 3/29/27. Spring break for many. Weather was in the 70’s during the day. This was a great escape from the hot sun on our winter bodies. There is pretty much no sun on the hike, which was perfect. Green, lush and beautiful. We crossed the creek 19 times, across a few bridges, during our 8.6 mile hike round trip. It is a pretty easy hike most of the way, but towards the end the creek crossing were a little sketchy. But, don’t stop until you get all the wall to the falls at the end if there is water in the creek.

Beautiful woods, friendly trails and lovely waterfalls made for a enjoyable hike on 10+ miles in 5 hours.

If you are new to this park - Poison oaks are abound so cover yourself well. The road in has lots of pot holes so drive accordingly.

This is a loop that can be done on a day that I have to work in the morning or afternoon, with a rewarding view at the top. It’ll get your blood pumping, although I would say it is more like 6 miles, not 9 as the map says. I park in the Safeway parking lot and take the Aptos Rancho Trail, the start of which is located at the end of the dead end Aptos Rancho Rd, across the street from the entrance to the shopping center.

After a single, easy creek crossing, Aptos Rancho Trail winds along Aptos Creek, never too steeply, through groves of redwoods and coastal oak, fir, and laurel trees. There is plenty of shade cover throughout this entire hike, but especially here. There are some beautiful, high up vistas of the creek. The trail will take you all the way to George's Picnic Area, where there is a pit toilet. Walk past the toilet and head up Redwood Drive Trail, which takes you to the border of Nisene Marks and onto Monte Toyon's property. You won’t get in trouble for hiking here, although you may run into groups of kids in the summer. This is a good time to let your dog off leash. The main trail is not too steep until the final tenth of a mile or so, if you decide to head all the way up this half mile leg of the loop to the Soquel Creek Water District access road. Then you will take a right onto the trail which goes uphill and follow it to the bench with a view.

However, I prefer to take the slightly overgrown leg of the loop the uphill direction; this is an inconspicuous right turn just beyond the similarly inconspicuous chain link fence that marks the border between properties, just about a tenth of a mile past George’s Picnic Area according to this map. This trail is very narrow and not heavily trodden, but completely passable, and quite the workout! You'll continue on to the right when you come to the next intersection, following the spur until you get to the bench at the top. On a clear day there are beautiful views of the Monterey Bay.

Double back and take the leg of the loop you missed on the way back down to George’s Picnic Area. The Buggy Trail spur on the way back is optional, but it's a fun little trail. There are lots of little trails worth exploring in Marcel’s Forest and lower Nisene Marks in general as well. Make sure you take Aptos Rancho Trail back and not the Aptos Creek Fire Road if you parked at Safeway, and as always, be mindful of water consumption, sun protection, ticks, and poison oak.

West Ridge Trail never disappoints. This single track trail is in near perfect condition since the CCC’s recent efforts. The setting is beautiful second and third growth redwood forest interspersed with coastal mixed oak woodland. This park manages to feel moist and full of life even in the driest seasons. Really shady, and moderate incline for the most part. Only one exposed part of the loop toward the last stretch of WRT. I hiked this as a 14 mile loop in 4 and a half hours at a steady pace with few breaks and it felt pretty easy. Such gorgeous views of Monterey Bay and Capitola/Santa Cruz from Sand Point Overook. Watch for ticks and bikers. As with most state parks, I love this one most on the weekday mornings, as that is when it is most quiet. Aptos Fire Road on the return is just as beautiful and well-maintained, but it is just that, a fire road. The sound of running water is a joy to walk to, and there are some cool historical points with info about the logging industry in the area and life in that time.

The bridge was watched out but someone screwed on some boards so it was possible to climb up the fallen bridge ( a little shady but fun if you don’t fall) the rest of the hike was challenging but some really unique scenery. Worth it but not for rookies.

Beautiful trail, but could be better marked. Fortunately, I passed just enough people on a late Sunday afternoon to assure me I was going the right way!

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