Explore the most popular kid friendly 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.

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.

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.

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
3 months ago

This is my go-to trail for any visitors. Short, sweet, and there’s a 1000 year old downed tree you can walk on!

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

hiking
3 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
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.

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.

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

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.

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

7 months ago

Short trail, don't waste your time.

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

This is a beautiful park. Within minutes of the main parking you can stroll into redwoods and have the kids play in the creek. As you wind your way into the forest along the creek you can cross it many times rock hopping. Longer hikes can be had here going for maple falls which we did once. I love this place.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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
Sunday, July 09, 2017

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
Monday, July 03, 2017

Not very well maintained as of 7/1/17 and very overgrown with poison oak. Otherwise a cool trail. Only 1.5 miles per Nisene Marks map.

hiking
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

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.

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Loved it.
Note: Carry a map!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

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

Thursday, June 08, 2017

First visit and we will definitely be back. This whole park is gorgeous. Can't wait to do more of the trails in this area. This trail was beautiful and kid friendly. Loved it!

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.

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.

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