Explore the most popular birding trails near Aptos with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Definitely was an adventurous trail! Views were alright but it was fun. A bit longer that I thought it’d be but was fun.

Absolutely beautiful hike. We parked about a mile away (to avoid paying because we left wallets..oops) and so that added a little more than I would have liked. But it was beautiful and getting to the falls was so worth it! Wear good shoes! Your feet will thank you!!

Great hike. A bit longer than advertised right now as you have to hike a mile or so from where you park on Aptos Creek Road (the non-paved portion was inaccessible by car, I think that opens up in the summer). Clocked it around 9 miles.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail really only makes sense as part of a longer loop. Nice little well-maintained single track, super duper easy, but it is neither dog or bike friendly so pretty pointless. The creek is on the other side of the fire road.

I parked at Cabrillo College and did this loop via Carmichael Trail with my dog. I have hiked Nisene for years but not so much the trails in the lower section. Usually I like longer hikes with more elevation gain, but the scenery was so beautiful and the forest smelled so nice and was so peaceful, i didn’t mind. Plenty of creek crossings which were fun for me and my dog. Be careful in the wet season, as the creeks get deep, the trails are very slippery, and it gets dark early under the canopy of trees. Thoroughly enjoyed accessing and seeing this old favorite in a new way.

walking
1 month ago

A walk down a nice, flat, wide fire road through a beautiful second and third growth redwood and oak woodland. You’ll share this walk with lots of bike riders and other walkers. Dogs are allowed on leash, but I have let mine off on quiet days. There are lots of points where you can walk spurs down to the creek. Loma Prieta Grade is flat and and easy as well. Nice place to take your non-hiker friends for a good walk.

hiking
1 month ago

I think this (and Old Growth Loop) is one of the best loops in the park for kids/families/newbies to the park in general. You get the best creek crossing and a picnic table next to it to enjoy the area with lots of little loops and places for kids to explore. The hike itself is not too strenuous uphill and the old downed tree is really cool. You get a good sample of the foliage and scenery this park offers. Be careful with the creek crossing in the wet season. Rain boots are a good idea, especially now. The fall colors are beautiful and the forest smells amazing. (11/2018)

hiking
1 month ago

I think this (and Oak Ridge Loop) is one of the best loops in the park for kids/families/newbies to the park in general. You get the best creek crossing and a picnic table next to it to enjoy the area with lots of little loops and places for kids to explore. The hike itself is not too strenuous uphill and the old downed tree is really cool. You get a good sample of the foliage and scenery this park offers. Be careful with the creek crossing in the wet season. Rain boots are a good idea, especially now. The fall colors are beautiful and the forest smells amazing. (11/2018)

hiking
1 month ago

This little out and back could easily be made into a loop that is still doable for kids. Good section of forest with interesting scenery for such a short spur. Also, this is one of the best spots on the creek to hang out/play/explore for kids and dogs alike. There is a picnic table on the far side of the creek. Be very careful crossing the creek in the wet season, it can get very deep in places.

hiking
1 month ago

This is the easiest free or “back” entrance to the park, and it’s a nice little trail. Plenty of parking on Vienna/Danube/Wiltshire Dr. It connects to Terrace Trail which is a great little loop. I like to bring my dog this way so I can have her off leash and let her play in the creek, and avoid being seen by any park rangers.

hiking
1 month ago

I did this as a part of a longer loop around all of lower Nisene Marks. The elevation gain is not too intense on this part and you have a great creek crossing in the beginning, so I think it would be fun for kids/families. I see a lot of them by this part of the creek. My dog also loves splashing in the water. There is a picnic table on the far side of the creek. The water is already pretty deep after only the second rain of the season, so I could see it becoming impassable after heavy rains. The fall colors are very pretty now and the forest smells amazing!

hiking
2 months ago

A super easy and beautiful hike that winds along Aptos Creek under the shade of bay, oak, laurel, and redwood trees. Park at the Safeway and cross the street into the culdesac (the road that is straight ahead out of the shopping center lot) to walk straight down to the trailhead. You can access Aptos Creek Fire Rd. and lots of other trails in lower Nisene Marks via this route without paying to park.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful and easy hike!

Drive up the fire road until there is a gate blocking the road, and use that parking area to save a bit of walking. The falls is absolutely beautiful; keep going, you’ll know when you get there, as you can go no further. My dog really enjoyed playing in the creek and hiking the trails without worrying about bikers. The last mile to the falls is slightly more technical terrain, very fun. When I went in mid October the falls were strong enough to stand under and cool off for the return trek.

Beautiful, well maintained trails and a decent workout. My dog loves it too, especially since no bikes allowed on these trails. Nisene Marks holds a special place in my heart, it is just magical.

Great workout. This is a good loop to avoid the bikers and general traffic of Aptos Creek Fire Road on the way to Sand Point Overlook.

I always love West Ridge Trail, which is beautiful and well-maintained, but if you’re going to do this loop, you might as well take Bridge Creek Trail all the way to Maple Falls, it is worth the extra mile or two to have a highlight on the hike. There aren’t many viewpoints or good picture spots on this particular loop without adding in that spur.

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.

If you are hiking with young children, drive all the way to the top. There is a parking area there, and you will be as close as you can get to the Small Loop trailhead. Otherwise, you will be sharing the road with mountain bikers flying up and down, and also adding mileage to the hike, which will affect your kids’ threshold, if they are anything like mine! Otherwise, a nice, easy hike for kids.

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!

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

3 months ago

Decent. Love the pine aromas as you pass the stands of fir

Hiked this yesterday with Sierra Club group. There was fog in the morning, which burned off, in the afternoon. There were a few nice vistas, the overlook at the top the most impressive, with 2 benches. Lots of poison oak but I had gaitors. One guy got stung by a wasp, which we were informed are active, this time of year. It was a strenuous hike, with gradual inclines. Bring at least 2 quarts of water, as there is none there. Many steep dropoffs along path make it somewhat dangerous. Moist, cool sea breezes made it comfortable. No good stopping points, other than at the top.

hiking
4 months ago

Wanted nice views and to be able to take my dog. Followed the creek, did hit some fallen trees but nothing to crazy. If your dog likes to swim, it will love the creek. In the beginning there’s a part where the creek is pretty full and my dog just kept running in it.

It was worth it to get there early: get a good parking spot and beat the crowd to the falls! It was a lovely hike, and I was lucky enough to get a bit of solitude at the falls. There was a decent bit of water, even though it's been a while since the last rain. I'll definitely be coming back!

on Porter Trail

hiking
5 months ago

Some downed trees and 2 notices of active bee-yellow jacket nests. 2 easy stream crossings. Weeds encroaching on trail. Check for ticks!

the old railroad portion was beautiful!

The dirt road in was not rough at all. You do have to get there early as parking near the gate was almost full around 10:30am. From the parking lot, we walked straight to the gate where the trail begins. We took a wrong turn at the Porter House Site, veering down and to the right instead of staying left and continuing uphill on the Loma Prieta Grade. Thankfully, we ran into someone who brought their map that the ranger gives you at the park entrance (entrance fee is $8). We crossed the creek 12 times on the way in. The trail was a little muddy in a couple spots but it’s not bad. There were a few places where we had to scramble over rocks. The falls are about a mile past the Bridge Creek Historic Site. Definitely plan on getting into the water and under the falls—super refreshing even if it’s a little chilly!

All in all, we had a great time on the hike and it was a mostly shaded trail. Do bring bug spray as there are a decent number of mosquitos and watch out for poison oak.

Load More