Aptos Rancho Trail, Loma Prieta Grade and Bridge Creek Loop

moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(106)
The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Aptos Rancho Trail, Loma Prieta Grade and Bridge Creek Loop is a 10.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Aptos, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 10.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,207 feet Route Type: Loop


nature trips

bird watching





wild flowers


no dogs

UPDATE (May 1, 2020): This park is temporarily closed to vehicular access, meaning there are no parking facilities and parking on roadways is prohibited to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this park is open to local residents, they must abide by the following guidelines: Stay Local: Walk or bike into the park. Do not drive to the park. Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails. Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people at the park or on trails to allow for the required physical distance. Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash. Statewide, many parks and beaches are temporarily closed or have very limited access to ensure Californians are abiding and practicing physical distancing. The goals are to make sure people are safe and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. To view the list of closures and what they mean to the public, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve. NOTE: Although the The Forest of Nisene Marks is open for recreation, the park is temporarily closed to vehicular access and visitors are not allowed to drive or park in the area due to COVID-19 concerns. Hikers must either walk or ride a bike to trailheads, so please plan accordingly. Please see the park's website for up to date information. This is an incredible place to explore off the beaten path in The Forest of Nisene Marks, near Santa Cruz. This trail doesn’t have much elevation gain or loss, and follows along a gorgeous redwood forest and a beautiful Creek. Experience the quietness of nature, and try to spot some of the abundance of wildlife that these redwoods offer. This trail starts at the parking area on Aptos Creek Road. Follow the Aptos Rancho Trail along the beautiful Aptos Creek. Then, take the Loma Prieta Grade Trail, which follows a steam railway bed from the mill to the Bridge Creek Historic Site. From here, you can either continue to the left, along the Bridge Creek Trail to the Maple Falls (recommended during the drier months as heavy rains make access difficult and potentially dangerous). Or you can continue to the right, along the Bridge Creek Trail, to Aptos Creek Fire Road and back to where you started. Dogs are allowed on the Aptos Creek Road at the start of this trail, but not the rest. Fees: $8 vehicle day-use fee.

1 month ago

Not bad, I enjoy that most of it is relatively flat and loosely paved for long stretches, with amply wide paths. Conversely, these attributes also somewhat make the trail not as exciting as others I've enjoyed. Regardless, it's dense forest for just about all of it, so it's serenely beautiful and peaceful.

2 months ago

Don't miss the waterfall.

2 months ago

off trail
over grown
washed out
4 months ago

I don’t know why, but the map provided by the park is laughably inaccurate, got lost at a certain point and it took a while to figure out where to go. I don’t know if the trail to continue past the falls is washed out, it seems like an area that experiences frequent trail changes from the elements, we had to go in and out, there wasn’t a looping trail to follow. I would say bring your water shoes for the falls, you’re going to be crossing the creek a ton of times. But it’s fun and dirty, will do again now that I know where to go.

4 months ago

Beautiful walk.

Great hike, did it after a rain the night before. Really busy but got a good parking spot. Could go a lot further into the park.

Thanksgiving jog with Ruby

9 months ago

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

So much fun. A lot of fun parts to navigate. Especially if you head to the waterfall

Tue Jun 04 2019

Mon May 27 2019

Plus a bit of Terrence Trail

Mon Jan 28 2019

This is a great trail! Aside from the distance I’d rate it as easy - barely any elevation gain. The forest is gorgeous and the trails are amazingly well maintained. A little buggy tho I didn’t wear bug spray and didn’t get bitten. The only annoying thing is about half the trail is on a road that’s wide and heavily used by bikers. But the most far away third of the hike is empty and is stunning. Would be perfect for trail running as a lot of people were doing.

Mon Oct 15 2018

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.

Mon Oct 08 2018

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!

Mon Oct 08 2018

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

Sun Nov 26 2017

Dogs only allowed on paved roads and in picnic areas

Fri Nov 24 2017


Sat Jul 29 2017

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.

Mon Jul 24 2017

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

Mon May 22 2017

Tue Feb 14 2017

loved it. Muddy and some parts of trail was covered, or washed away cuz of rain

Wed Jul 20 2016

Went up and took the path up to the Maple Falls! about a 6 mile hike around a loop and a pretty steady but good incline! Trail gets a bit rough but we enjoyed the challenge

Wed Mar 30 2016


Sat Sep 12 2015

It was superb! So gorgeous, engulfed in trees, big redwoods. This trail has many visitors however going up the mountain you still feel as though there is only you. I would recommend this for everyone to try once.

Mon Jun 15 2015

This was a great hike. It offers views of trees and some waterfall. However, be very careful of poison oaks since they are everywhere in the trail.

Showing results 1 - 25 of 106