Explore the most popular wild flowers 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 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.

9 days 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
1 month 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
2 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 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.

Absolutely beautiful! Lots of rich lush foliage. Stays cool in the summer and plenty of shade for pleasant hiking. The array of birds and babbling creak provides a very peaceful atmosphere. Make sure to keep an eye out for poison oak.

hiking
3 months ago

6/22/18: Aptos Creek Trail remains impassable—If you are up for the 15-16 mile round trip detour (my track said 17.9, but I parked as far as the main entrance station), the falls is absolutely beautiful and secluded right now. I stayed for a couple of hours, laying on the smooth rocks and swimming beneath the cascade, which was a nice reward for the grueling trek up. Surprisingly not very buggy, but as always, check yourself and furry friends for ticks! I might do this again soon and make it an overnight by camping at the West Ridge Trail camp. There are a few large downed trees to scramble over and some overgrowth as you get closer to the falls, but my dog and I handled it with no problems. I took Donut Trail to Big Slide to get off the main road on the way up, but I wouldn’t recommend it in the uphill direction, it was killer, narrow ankle twisting single track up a really steep grade. Lots of mountain bikers as usual, but all very friendly and courteous of my off leash dog.

Lots of poison oak on the return route. AllTrails suggests parking at the trail entrance but to shave off a mile or two you can continue to drive the paved road until it dead ends and start the hike from there.

Good for hiking, family gathering and must visit.

Did this in 3hr 25min, but started at the second parking lot on the way in, I believe it was 12mi round trip.

I run and hike quite often, but the last 2mi to the Overlook got me huffing and puffing.

Beautiful hike on the way up, but like others have said the second half is just a fire road.

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!

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

hiking
6 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.

Beautiful woods, friendly trails and lovely waterfalls made for a enjoyable hike on 10+ miles in 5 hours.

If you are new to this park - Poison oaks are abound so cover yourself well. The road in has lots of pot holes so drive accordingly.

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.

West Ridge Trail never disappoints. This single track trail is in near perfect condition since the CCC’s recent efforts. The setting is beautiful second and third growth redwood forest interspersed with coastal mixed oak woodland. This park manages to feel moist and full of life even in the driest seasons. Really shady, and moderate incline for the most part. Only one exposed part of the loop toward the last stretch of WRT. I hiked this as a 14 mile loop in 4 and a half hours at a steady pace with few breaks and it felt pretty easy. Such gorgeous views of Monterey Bay and Capitola/Santa Cruz from Sand Point Overook. Watch for ticks and bikers. As with most state parks, I love this one most on the weekday mornings, as that is when it is most quiet. Aptos Fire Road on the return is just as beautiful and well-maintained, but it is just that, a fire road. The sound of running water is a joy to walk to, and there are some cool historical points with info about the logging industry in the area and life in that time.

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

10 months ago

Short trail, don't waste your time.

10 months ago

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

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