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Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls

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The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls is a 7.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Aptos, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 7.7 miles Elevation Gain: 823 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

scramble

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. Off the beaten path, The Forest of Nisene Marks is a refreshing retreat from the busy towns and beaches along Highway 1 near Santa Cruz. Its dense second- and third-growth redwood forest rises from near sea level to steep coastal mountains. Drive up Aptos Creek Road to the park entrance kiosk. Note, that parking fees ($8) are required daily. After the park entrance kiosk the road quickly become packed dirt but can be driven by to all types of vehicles. Continue on the dirt road to the Porter Family Picnic Area. There is a locked gate here closing the fire trail for vehicles, park here. The trail head is just a few yards beyond the locked gate. Continue north on the fire road beyond the locked gate, start on the Loma Prieta Grade Trail on the left. In about a 0.5 miles bear to the right at the fork and switch over to Bridge Creek Trail. Follow Bridge Creek Trail all the way to Maple Falls about 3 miles to the falls (6 miles in and out). Note: The park map makes mention of a winter gate on the Aptos Creek Fire road so depending on the time of year you visit the park if this gate is closed you will need to leave your car at the George's Picnic Area. Walk to the Porter Family Picnic Area to start the trail by use of the Aptos Creek Fire Road. If this is the case it will add approx. 1 mile each way for a total of 2 miles roundtrip. The trail starts out easy and quickly changes to moderate. It goes through dense redwood forest, steep trails, canyons, bridges and a couple of river crossings hopping over rocks. It gets a bit challenging in some points especially towards the end as you get close to the waterfall.

mountain biking
18 hours ago

Of the most beautiful oh forestry I’ve ever seen. Makes it one of my favorite trails. The incline is tough but worth it!

hiking
2 days ago

Amazing trail. My maps timeline says it's 10 miles round trip given the parking is only available at entrance station. The last mile is pretty tricky and not marked enough. We were helped by a couple of tips regarding directions by the folks returning. The water flow itself was comparatively good considering it's the end of season.

It is a good hike but very confusing with trails

hiking
4 days ago

Very nice trail! Well maintained and mostly flat except for the final 1/2 mile. Also not many people on a Friday afternoon. Do note that you will have to walk a bit longer right now as the only parking lot open is at the entrance station, and there are very limited spots. Most people will end up parking outside the park and get in by foot.

Simply beautiful

hiking
muddy
13 days ago

The trail is nicely shaded throughout the hike. The beginning of the hike was mostly flat but towards the end it became a little tricky as the path became unclear. There are many areas where you have to cross back and forth on the creek, use your hands to steady yourself as you climb up or down rocks, and walk across fallen logs and muddy spaces. While it did feel like an obstacle course, it was fun to accomplish and see the fall at the end!

hiking
off trail
15 days ago

The best trail I’ve ever hiked this far, me and my bro went spontaneously! And it was worth it! I wasn’t hard getting to the waterfall but it was far from easy and lowkey off path! Highly recommended. Bring some weed witcha.

hiking
26 days ago

Great hike

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

hiking
scramble
2 months ago

Top section of trail NOT for mountain biking!!

hiking
bugs
2 months ago

hiking
scramble
3 months ago

Beautiful wooded trail running along the creek with several crossovers that are fairly easy. The majority of the hike is super easy. It is not until you get toward the end closer to the main waterfall that there is some scrambling but nothing too hard. There really was very little mud but it also hasn’t rained in a couple weeks. On the way back you can take a side loop that has a little more elevation and several little bridges.

hiking
scramble
3 months ago

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

Wear hiking books as the mud is no joke!

hiking
muddy
4 months ago

Such an easy fun trail. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. The mud was a little intense at points, so bring hiking boots instead of running shoes. You also have to walk through the creek bed a few times so hiking boots are very ideal. The waterfall at the end was gorgeous, but the carvings in the rocks were sad. Don’t ruin nature. Carving your name isn’t cool.

hiking
muddy
4 months ago

hiking
muddy
4 months ago

hiking
fee
muddy
scramble
4 months ago

If you reach a small trickle of a fall you aren’t there yet, keep going! Check out pictures to know what the real fall looks like.

hiking
fee
muddy
scramble
4 months ago

hiking
muddy
scramble
washed out
4 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Lots of little off trails, tons to explore if you go off the main trail by foot. Lots of cyclists on the main trail. Also note: parking is cash only.

running
muddy
5 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

It was such a great walk with my family we all loved it and will Definitely be heading back for another round

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