Looking for a great trail in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, California? AllTrails has 28 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 16 moderate trails in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park ranging from 1.7 to 15.8 miles and from 114 to 2,604 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!



nature trips


bird watching

wild flowers




no dogs

kid friendly

mountain biking

dogs on leash



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.

Combined with lower portion of Terrace trail this makes for a 4.3 hike with a small loop at the top and a bit more climbing! Requires two creek crossings, easy when creek is low

Good trail, not too hard. Lots of poison oak and bugs. People at the start and end of the trail made us feel very unwelcome.

Trail itself was awesome even if there was a lot of poison oak. Some of the people at the retreat center area you have to walk through to get back to the car made hikers feel unwelcome. Some were kinda sketchy, like the guy who tried to let his dog hump my dog and then proceeded to follow us to our car. I don’t think I will be returning to this particular trail.

mountain biking
7 days ago

Long and fun trail for family's. Recommend mosquito repellent.

bridge out
washed out
8 days ago

Yes, the trail is closed. However, if you are up for a challenge, it is an epic hike. A GPS is strongly recommended since landslides and washed out parts make it easy to get lost. Ropes have replaced a bridge and this is where you need to be careful. The price is the hike more than the waterfall. If you park at the last parking, it is only a 10 mile hike.

This trail is not located in Nisene Marks State Park. It is located on the land of the adjacent retreat, Land of the Medicine Buddha. There is a way to get to it from the park but you’ll be hiking a long ways, via the West Ridge trail and the 6-mile loop trail on LOMB

Awesome easy trail but long enough for a good hike

See Alanna's review below, except I'd like to add that this forest is sooo beautiful and lush and scenic! Lots of tree cover and shade the whole time. Not very many other humans once you get a few miles in. Plenty of water flowing in the rivers to filter if needed, so don't need to carry more than 2-3 liters if backpacking. There were no bugs which was glorious. Parking is free overnight outside the park on the road leading in. 24 miles total if you park here and walk. Will be doing this one again soon!

washed out
13 days ago

Did this trail in two days which is NOT allowed. So the backpacking/camping description on here is in accurate. The camp ground 7 miles in is closed, but I was still able to make it a no trace backpacking experience with no trouble. There’s no overnight parking. So hiking from the main road is needed. Not saying to break the rules, just make sure you’re aware of what’s allowed and be respectful of the trail if you do decide to camp. The falls is a great place to take a dip. The Aptos creek trail is closed, but it has ropes and is not too challenging. It came to about 24 miles and had some good incline exercise.

Beautiful hike. There was a wasp warning but I didn’t have any problems. The last 1/2 mile or so there’s a lot of creek crossing back and forth and a few rocks or fallen trees to scale but not bad at all. Seriously just a great hike in a beautiful place. (And the waterfall is fantastic)

very shaded and a lot of diversity. I recommend going count clockwise. the slope of the incline is harder but it is a shorter distance. the way down going counterclockwise is more of a bike path so watch out for bikes coming through. the path is not very Rocky but it is narrow so you can't walk side-by-side. this hike has beautiful smells and really diverse landscape

19 days ago

I'm a clumsy trail runner, and some portions of the trail were too narrow or steep to really run. I would pick a different trail for kids younger than 6 or so, but otherwise a great trail for hiking. The trees are definitely beautiful

nice hike. you definitly can park closer to the trailhead but I enjoyed the extra walk on the dirt road. the waterfall is a nice place to take a break. I went midweek so there wasn't a lot of traffic.

23 days ago

Went with two friends. Great hike with some elevation. Redwoods were beautiful.

Lots of positive oak and some bugs. A nice hike, but not necessarily one that I'd come back to until many more SC-area trails are explored!

The entrance to the trail is gated off with signs saying no trespassing. Honestly can’t imagine why anyone would see “no trespassing” signs and still go through. Another commenter said the other entrance is through Aptos Creek Park, but we couldn’t find a park with that name anywhere near where this particular trail is. So we gave up trying.

1 month ago

Nice wide trails, many short interconnected trails, many poorly marked. Kept AllTrail active to ensure accuracy...

3.9 miles one way, hike on is straight up, nice hike out.

So beautiful... but I warn against going this season due to bugs and poison oak. Just be aware, poison oak covers the path and bugs swarm your face for a mile at the top of the trail. I woke up with some lovely poison oak spots and swollen eyes

1 month ago

Easy trail, but not all flat. I walked at a good clip and got my heartbeat up. A group of families gathered at the creek was sweet, tho added high pitched human noise to the mix with the jays. Go to the downed Advocate Tree to see a remarkable 1,000 year old redwood just fallen in 2017.

Most beautiful trial I’ve ever been on and I lived in Italy! The top is overgrown but once you get down to the creek it’s so beautiful.

Truly beautiful and peaceful. As described by others, lots of poison oak through top of loop...but still worth the hassle of avoiding.

Got stung twice. Other than that no complaints. Great trail run

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