Explore the most popular dogs on leash 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.

This is a loop that can be done on a day that I have to work in the morning or afternoon, with a rewarding view at the top. It’ll get your blood pumping, although I would say it is more like 6 miles, not 9 as the map says. I park in the Safeway parking lot and take the Aptos Rancho Trail, the start of which is located at the end of the dead end Aptos Rancho Rd, across the street from the entrance to the shopping center.

After a single, easy creek crossing, Aptos Rancho Trail winds along Aptos Creek, never too steeply, through groves of redwoods and coastal oak, fir, and laurel trees. There is plenty of shade cover throughout this entire hike, but especially here. There are some beautiful, high up vistas of the creek. The trail will take you all the way to George's Picnic Area, where there is a pit toilet. Walk past the toilet and head up Redwood Drive Trail, which takes you to the border of Nisene Marks and onto Monte Toyon's property. You won’t get in trouble for hiking here, although you may run into groups of kids in the summer. This is a good time to let your dog off leash. The main trail is not too steep until the final tenth of a mile or so, if you decide to head all the way up this half mile leg of the loop to the Soquel Creek Water District access road. Then you will take a right onto the trail which goes uphill and follow it to the bench with a view.

However, I prefer to take the slightly overgrown leg of the loop the uphill direction; this is an inconspicuous right turn just beyond the similarly inconspicuous chain link fence that marks the border between properties, just about a tenth of a mile past George’s Picnic Area according to this map. This trail is very narrow and not heavily trodden, but completely passable, and quite the workout! You'll continue on to the right when you come to the next intersection, following the spur until you get to the bench at the top. On a clear day there are beautiful views of the Monterey Bay.

Double back and take the leg of the loop you missed on the way back down to George’s Picnic Area. The Buggy Trail spur on the way back is optional, but it's a fun little trail. There are lots of little trails worth exploring in Marcel’s Forest and lower Nisene Marks in general as well. Make sure you take Aptos Rancho Trail back and not the Aptos Creek Fire Road if you parked at Safeway, and as always, be mindful of water consumption, sun protection, ticks, and poison oak.

hiking
5 months ago

When I do this beach walk, I park on the beach side of the road at the entrance to Dolphin Beach, near the intersection of Sumner and Dolphin Dr. The trail is a staircase down with some garbage cans and dog poop bags. The trailhead takes you down to the beach via a dry creek known as Bush Gulch.

As other reviewers have mentioned, this is not so much a trail as a literal walk on the beach. It really is a wonderful place, with a seemingly endless, wide open expanse of sand, big surf, and tall, jutting bluffs dotted with coastal trees and plants. Often times the cliffs open up into small sandy coves, gulches, or inlets, areas with soft grass and sometimes flowers, and large pieces of driftwood that make great places to sit, where friends and I have camped and had bonfires. The full moon looks beautiful rising over the cliffs. On clear days, there are views of the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Monterey Peninsula on the south side of the bay, and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the north. The best thing about this place is that it is absolutely ok to have your (friendly!) dog off leash. Rangers often drive the beach, and none have ever stopped me with my pit bull mix running around chasing her ball into the waves. If you are so inclined, as far as I can tell, you could walk along this beach for miles and miles. I have seen seals, whales, dolphins, all kinds of seabirds, crabs, jellyfish, and this is also a great place for collecting shells and sand dollars.

Fun hike, this is where most of the people go. Not a lot of elevation gain but the river is cool.

walking
11 months ago

It is a walk along the beach, not a hike. It is a very nice beach to walk on though! Not crowded, at all. Other people had dogs on the beach. The water as nice. Got to see a lot of birds, crabs, and some whales. The beach had many sand dollars as well if you're into that.

on Terrace Trail

hiking
Saturday, June 24, 2017

As previously stated, the "trail was difficult to follow near the stream. There were many fallen trees crossing the narrow path near the stream and an overgrowth of bushes."

Monday, June 12, 2017

This section of the trail is a little overgrown, but leads up to the campsites and back around toward the road and over the train tracks. There is a little bridge that goes over a tiny creek where you can observe dragonflies.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Not a hike - it's on the beach bit nice boardwalk

hiking
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Loved this gorgeous park. The scenery was a 5 star, but this trail was difficult to follow near the stream. There were many fallen trees crossing the narrow path near the stream and an overgrowth of bushes. Definite trail maintenance with a chainsaw is needed.

The first stream crossing was challenging but we made it across with dry boots. The second stream crossing was too much for us (and for the couple we saw trying to cross in the opposite direction). We gave up on the trail and headed back to the parking lot on the main trail.

walking
Sunday, June 12, 2016

Love walking/ running here!

on Rio Del Mar Trail

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

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