State


California

Region

San Francisco
Bay Area

Park

*
Nisene Marks


Nearby parks

*
Henry Cowell

***
Big Basin

**
Muir Woods

*
Butano

**
Purisima Creek


Big Sur


Trails in this area

*
Old Growth Loop

*
Five Finger Falls

*
Soquel DSF

 

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park


and Soquel Demonstration State Forest
California > San Francisco Bay Area

Aptos Creek Fire Road

Clearcut about a hundred years ago, Nisene Marks is today carpeted with dense second-growth forest. The park is cool, shady, and quiet, and has lots of trails. Scenery-wise, though, it's a little dull; the forest has a worn-out look and isn't as lush or attractive as at most other redwood parks. For example, the Fall Creek unit of Henry Cowell, a nearby second-growth redwood park, is more enjoyable, although it's not as big and doesn't allow biking.

Nonetheless Nisene Marks is very popular. Most visitors come to to bike or jog the Aptos Creek Fire Road, which climbs through the park's central canyon, but the surrounding hiking trails are also very popular. Nisene Marks connects with another popular park, the Soquel Demonstration State Forest, a property that's being actively logged and that has a trail system mainly intended for mountain biking.

About half of Nisene Marks' forest is redwoods. Surprisingly, the redwoods are somewhat patchy in the park's large central canyon; the densest and most scenic stands are in the side canyons. Poison oak is especially common throughout the park.

Aptos Creek Fire Road is popular with cyclists

Hikes

* Old Growth Loop (1.4 mi, 350 ft)
This hike leads far up a steep-walled side canyon to a remote waterfall. The canyon has more variety and better redwoods than most trails in Nisene Marks.

* Five Finger Falls (11.9 mi, 1370 ft)
This hike leads far up a steep-walled side canyon to a remote waterfall. The canyon has more variety and better redwoods than most trails in Nisene Marks.

* Soquel Demonstration State Forest (9.5 mi, 1270 ft)
This forest is mainly a mountain biking destination, but determined hikers will find some nice scenery in the less-used trails below the main biking trails.

Loma Prieta Grade passes through a side canyon with a dense stand of second-growth redwoods


 

© 2014 David Baselt