Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls

MODERATE 72 reviews

Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls is a 7.7 mile moderately 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

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

scramble

no dogs

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. After the park entrance 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 trail beyond the locked gate, start the tail 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 Steel Bridge parking and walk to the Porter Family Picnic Area to start the trail. If this is the case it will add approx. 1 mile each way for a total of 2 miles to the tail. 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.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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!

hiking
2 months ago

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

hiking
2 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.

hiking
4 months ago

We used the direction tab from this apps instead of reading an instruction on how to get there, we ended up with hiking about 1-1.5 miles ( I forgot to track the exact miles) extra each way unintentionally. The direction from the apps took as to Mesa Grande Rd which ends at the entrance of the Nisene Marks park. Took a trail on the right side near that entrance. Follow the direction to Apto creek road to get to the trail head. It’s an easy stroll until about a mile to the fall and it becomes moderate hike along the creek. Not much water at this time for Maple fall.

hiking
4 months ago

Even with an average waterfall, amazing hike. TH easy to find. First 2 miles flat, wide & well maintained trail. Also a lot of runners first few miles. Next few miles trail got muddy in places, was pretty narrow but no one else around. At 3.5 miles you start crossing the stream multiples times and a few more obstacles including a short tree you walk across and also having to pull yourself up on the trail (pictures included) but not to bad the last.5 miles. The last 2 miles in a ton of mountain bikers but still peaceful. Get there early - very little parking when I left

hiking
5 months ago

What an amazing hike! We didn’t quite make it to Maple Falls, due to time, but what a great excuse to come back. The gate is closed to the Porter Family Picnic area, so you can choose free parking right before the entrance or pay the $8 to park at the first parking/picnic area. It’s about a mile extra onto your hike to Maple Falls, so plan time accordingly. Get there before 10am, after parking is scarce. We parked with ease at about 9am on a Sunday. I loved seeing so many others biking, running, and waking the trail. From Porter Family Picnic area to Loma Preita Grade is kid friendly and an easy walk. After, as you continue on to Bridge Creek Trail towards Maple Creek there are a few iffy spots for younger kids. Overall a great day spent in Nisene.

hiking
5 months ago

Awesome place for a run and/or hike. I actually did an extra loop to make it over 12 miles. Make sure to go all the way to the end for the 2nd waterfall

hiking
7 months ago

Really great trail, and I finished in around 4.5 hours. It was raining and misty so if you want to go in November I recommend it.

hiking
7 months ago

This is my favorite trail that we've done. Not great for small kids as there is quite a bit of scrambling and climbing over obstacles required. Bridge Creek Trail has a bad bridge so it's closed. Just walk down the main road to Buddha Bridge and pick the trail up there. This place was beautiful. Not extremely challenging until you get to the river where you have to pick your steps carefully. You'll cross the rive about 17 times until you reach the falls. It was a long hike, but totally worth it.

hiking
9 months ago

The majority of Bridge Creek Trail is currently closed since there is a work crew clearing downed trees and repairing trails that were damaged in last winter's storms. The trail crew is scheduled to be done mid-October. It's possible to get to Maple Falls via Loma Prieta Grade and Hoffman's Historic Site, an elevation gain and drop back to the creek, then turning left at Bridge Creek Historic Site, which puts you on the last part of the Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls. There's still a lot of hopscotching the rocks on numerous creek crossings, but that's part of the fun. And for those who think the waterfall is dry, sorry to say, but you didn't get to Maple Falls. It's still flowing, and in fact it's year-round; was flowing last fall after years of drought. While not as impressive as Big Basin's Berry Creek Falls, it's a lovely destination with few crowds.

For the person who couldn't find the trailhead, walk up the Aptos Creek Fire Road about .2 miles past the Porter Family Picnic Area parking, which is the furthest you can drive May-October. The Loma Prieta Grade will be on your left, but the signage is about 25' off the Fire Rd, so it can be easy to miss. Keep looking left and you'll see a bike rack and sign for Loma Prieta Grade, Porter House Site, and Bridge Creek Trail.

10 months ago

I went on 7/25/17 it's 10.5 miles hike ... bt unfortunately the water fall was dried up ... bt over all it's a very nice trail

11 months ago

The best part about his hike is the hiking itself. Maybe I went at the wrong time or just missed out on the awesome view like in the pictures but what I saw is just a little waterfall behind fallen trees and mud slides. The start of the hike is easy but as you get through midway it starts to be a bit tougher. Tougher as in that you have to go off trail and connect trails because of fallen trees and mud slides that destroyed the trail. Other than that the trail was good. Chances are I won't be doing his one again.

hiking
11 months ago

Today was the second time I've tried this hike, completed it today and made it to Maple Falls. It's beautiful, but somewhat difficult due obstacles on the trail. The bridge is washed out still so there's a sketchy detour up and around right before where the bridge was. Do not recommend for kids at all really, until it gets a little more cleared up. Overall, the weather was perfect and nice waterfall/scenery!

hiking
11 months ago

Nice walk but be careful of a few landslides/obstacles on trail

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Loved it.
Note: Carry a map!!

trail running
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Creeks were low enough to cross. Several mud slides so plan on a lot of delays. Not recommended for young children who don't know how to hike. Some wildflowers still in bloom. Moderate hike, mostly flat. It was 9 miles from the Steel Bridge, I think due to creek crossings and hiking over mudslides.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

FYI, just went today and the trail remains closed due to washed out road and fallen trees. The 3 mile loop just around the coordinates provided is a nice hike. You can hike down to the creek as well, which is fun. Beautiful space, but 3 stars cuz no waterfall for me! :-( I will be heading back once the trail is open again.

hiking
Saturday, April 01, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The trail is currently closed and they don't expect to open it soon... it's a shame, it's probably beautiful

hiking
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

ANYONE KNOW HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD?! Not clear at all, map quest is wrong!

hiking
Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Amazing hike with my daughters. What a gorgeous experience! Two waterfalls, river crossings and lots of adventure. Would love to hike in the summer too.

hiking
Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Very nice hike, lots to see all along the way. The waterfall is beautiful but my favorite part were the many creek crossings, so fun! Just be sure when you see the first waterfall coming down the hill on your right, that you go up the hill on your left. We kept going straight through the ravine along the creek and realized the trail didn't continue that way

hiking
Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The trail started out pretty easy and quickly becomes more technical. The trails are marked pretty good, make sure to get a map when you enter the park. The redwood forest is dense and the trail runs narrow along canyons with some river crossings and rock hopping. The hike gets a bit more difficult towards the end but push on to the waterfall, it is amazing and definitely worth the hike. Water levels were low after a long summer but the river and the waterfall were still flowing. Will come back again for sure in the winter. Very exciting hike, We all loved it :)

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1 day ago

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4 days ago

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8 days ago

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