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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

fee

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. There is a $8 fee to use this trail. 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.

walking
fee
great!
rocky
scramble
6 hours ago

awesome hike with really sceninc views..

this lies in the definition of the trail - long challenging! we reached around 09 am , the overall trek was of 3 hours. People walking by were generous to put mask while they close to a crowd of 2 or more. The trek is mostly 1 way. I didn’t saw many dogs at the very end of the trail near maple falls. Remember, at times you’ll feel that the trek is finished but it isn’t, keep a track on all trails to reach the final destination of the trail to see the beautiful water falls. $8 parking fee allows you to park inside the park vincity of the state park.

hiking
rocky
11 hours ago

I would recommend this trail. This was our second time doing it. The first we went alone but wanted to bring our daughters. We parked up as far as you could go so it took about a mile off the hike. We got there early so parking was not an issue. As you get closer to the waterfall you cross back and fourth about 20 or so times before you actually get to the fall.

hiking
fee
5 days ago

Fun park. Needs more trail signs, arrows indicating where to go. Went yesterday with my sisters to try and see Maple Falls but could not find it despite having a park map. Hikers and bikers kept point us up the main trail until the people higher up on the trail said they haven’t seen a waterfall at all up there, so we gave up after miles of going up and down. Park fee is $8 and the rangers are nice. Everyone is required to wear a mask to pay but on the trail only half the hikers had one on. We kept ours in case we passed people but it’s harder to hike if you keep it on the whole time. Determined to go back without kids and find that waterfall!

13 days ago

Very fun trail. Drive all the way in to porter for the shortest route. The end of the hike gets rugged with several easy creek crossings. The fall is still going strong!

hiking
14 days ago

We reached early in the morning around 7:30 and there were not a lot many people in the park, if you are going early I would suggest driving all the way to the last parking lot as there will be ample parking available in the morning, we parked way before the trailhead starts and that added around 2.5 miles one way to the hike. This is a good hike which involves a bit of elevation gain, not too much to tire you out, you need to scramble a few rocks and cross stream a few times but nothing too hard or dangerous. Overall it's a fun hike and is shady all the way so can be done any time of the day but if you reach late to the park, parking lots will be full. This was my first hike in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and I would back for more.

it was pretty good trail overall, but there is one point which was missing a marking and hence we ended up taking a wrong path for extra 500ft elevation and added 1.5 miles to our route. but it was worth it, we are amateur at this and it was a learning experience.

hiking
scramble
23 days ago

Started from the trailhead at the Porter Family Picnic Area - drive ALL the way in. Trail was mostly shady to the falls. Don't let the downed trees and scramble over rocks deter you - keep going to the falls - it's worth it!

hiking
27 days ago

Great hike for scenery and difficulty! The hike was easy in itself just the length was a total of 16 miles round trip due to having to park almost 2 miles before the trail. Please look up what POISON OAK & POISON IVY look like before the trail because there is a crazy amount everywhere. It’s very cool weather due to the abundance of shade so wear a long sleeve and long pants to assist with preventing touching the poisonous plants. There is one section where you think you can’t keep going (about 0.5 mile before the waterfall) but don’t let it fool you climb up the rocks a little bit and the trail will appear again. You can swim under the falls! No danger. Not crowded which was great.

hiking
fee
scramble
1 month ago

This was one of my favorite hikes I have done! We went on Tuesday, and it wasn’t very crowded. Parking is a bit limited currently, so from where we parked it was about a mile and a half from the Loma Prieta Grade trailhead which is where this hike starts. This added an extra 3 miles in total, and some people had to park even further up the road. This park was by far the cleanest I have been to, it was mostly shaded, and really peaceful. I would love to come back and camp here when the campgrounds reopen. The trail was clear the entire hike, and very easy to follow. A couple signs along the way ensured us we were headed the right direction. Only one spot we came to a Y and toward the right (away from the water) was a mountain bike path, and we stayed left (following the water) to go toward the falls. There were several water crossings, but the rocks were not slippery, and there was only a few inches of water at each crossing. It would be wise to wear shoes with good traction. There was also some scrambling we did as we got closer to the falls. We climbed over some rocks, some downed trees, and made several passes across the stream in the last mile. The trail ends at Maple Falls, which isn’t incredibly large or tall, but situated in kind of a private glen, and gorgeous with the mossy rocks and all the greenery around. We saw a Banana Slug, caterpillar, butterflies, and deer. I will definitely go back, this park is beautiful!

hiking
1 month ago

It was a beautiful hike!!! It was mostly shaded, beautiful weather, and amazing scenery. The trail gets increasingly adventurous the closer to the falls you get. I loved it!

1 month ago

Great hike. Felt like a ninja warrior near the end. Needs more signs on the trails.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice trail through the woods with a pretty little waterfall at the end. A trail has to really wow me to get 5 stars but I would definitely recommend this trail and would happily do it again. The only moderate part about the trail is the length, other than that is was pretty easy with some mild scrambling over logs toward the end.

running
scramble
1 month ago

Great trail in a gorgeous forest, Redwoods are amazing here! The end has a bit of a scramble up the creek but totally worth it for a nice little trail to the falls. I went May 27 and I only saw one couple along the way and one runner after getting past the initial fire road which had a few runners and lots of bikers.

mountain biking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
2 months ago

Great hike

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

hiking
scramble
3 months ago

Top section of trail NOT for mountain biking!!

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

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