Explore the most popular dogs on leash trails in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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. .

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.

Beautiful, peaceful trail!

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.

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!

Great trail! Beautiful the whole time. Not easy but moderate :)

Land of the Medicine Buddha gets Five stars. My experience today would get zero.

Nisene Marks and LOTMB are beautiful and serene. I have no negative comments about the park / retreat center itself.

I took my seven month old Labrador Retriever to Land of the Medicine Buddha today for the first time (his first time not mine) today. I thought it would be a nice serene place to take my dog as it’s a retreat area and surrounded by beautiful nature and Buddhist blessings.

Unfortunately an off leash dog attacked my dog. It pinned him on his back to the ground and bit has face chest and legs. I am going to have to take him to the vet as he has bled a lot and has open wounds.

Please people, if you bring your dog be responsible. We all want to enjoy the space in peace. Safety of others and your own is paramount. It was heartbreaking to hear his cries and see all the blood. My dog was leashed but I felt helpless at being able to get the dog off mine and because he was leashed he could not run away from the other dog. There are leash laws for a reason so please abide by them.

Fun hike, this is where most of the people go. Not a lot of elevation gain but the river is cool.

There are a number of loop trails here. All are good. Along the trail there are various monuments, statues and places of worship which makes the trail interesting.

The entry is a metal road gate right by the quarry that says no trespassing. A couple miles in you get to a real trail sign for destinations in nisene marks. This trail is fire road and has 4 water crossings within the first half mile. Super cool and I only saw one other person.

Beautiful, serene trail. About 6 miles and very green. Mainly level with about 2 miles of gradual inclines. On private retreat property so please respect the closures. Dogs on leash are allowed, but no bikes.

Dogs only allowed on paved roads and in picnic areas

This moderate trail was beautiful!

Terrible marked trail. Very hard to find the beginning with the Buddha center having some of the roads closed. This trail was marked as 8 verses when we saw a trail marking at all.

Lots of mosquito's and poison oak. Narrow trails with tons of roots. Lots to trip over. It's a beautiful first part through the redwoods along a creek. Once you get to the top it's not as nice.
Suppose to be no mountain bikes but they are there. Very narrow trail. So be careful.

Entire family (including dog) enjoyed our day here. Lots of change in terrain kept it interesting. Walk down to creek for light snacks was beautiful, and moments of single trail hiking made it feel intimate. Highly recommend!

Really pretty hike! At the top the path gets super narrow and there is a TON of poison oak. The hike isn't too difficult, but your blood certainly gets flowing. Would certainly do again, but would wear long pants to protect against the plants.

This trail starts at the free parking but if you're willing to pay the entry fee, you can drive to the end of the Aptos creek fire road. The road traffic is pretty significant so its nice to skip the dusty road and start at the gate.

There are two significant landslides on the bridge trail which make it hard to finish the loop.

So beautiful here. Wish I could have seen more but I will be back for sure!

FYI- it's closed on Saturdays. We just drove 3 hours to find this out. We will be back, been on my list to experience (:

This hike was pretty easy for my kids and I to complete. Mild elevation changes and beautiful scenery. Multiple surprise Buddha shrines hidden within the majestic forest trees. Definitely a family friendly hike!

Very peaceful and enchanting hike. It took me about 3 hours to finish. This trail felt fairly Easy for me. It's rated Moderate. I've done moderate trails that have felt much harder.

On my list for awhile, finally experienced this beautiful spot... We started after the first gate of Land of Medicine Buddha (where we were greeted with a map) for the 6 mile loop, with the altars and 8 verses as our reward at the end. Most of the trail is shaded with the lovely tree canopies, and we were almost the only ones on the trail. There are many spots where you must choose L or R and we were able to use alltrails map/ gps to keep us on track. It took us 3ish hours with a lunch break and moments of pausing to enjoy. Also as others have said, about half way the trail narrows and poison oak is plentiful. That and the lack of signage is the reason for 4 stars. The serene gorgeous green surroundings and the trickling of water throughout the journey were soo worth it, the healing energy of this land is truly special. Enjoy!

It was very relaxing do this trail. I surely return there! :)

My family and I loved this hike. It was peaceful and serene with very few other hikers. The trail is not very well marked so it is best to study the map before you go. I agree with the comments about poison oak - there are several stretches where it is difficult to avoid the numerous plants.

Our family likes this location at lot as it is easy to get to and the hike offers many beautiful and peaceful terrains. However the biggest drawback is about after 3 miles into the 6-mile loop, the hiking path became extremely narrow and poison oaks plants are all over the hiking path for about half a mile. There is no way your leg can't touch them. I wore shorts on that day and my right leg had a huge rash 24 hours later. If you do go, do wear long pant that cover your legs.

on Terrace Trail

11 months ago

As previously stated, the "trail was difficult to follow near the stream. There were many fallen trees crossing the narrow path near the stream and an overgrowth of bushes."

Great trail, gets narrow towards the top with a good amount of poison oak along that area.

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