Sunrise to Sunset
The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
This page will be updated as damage is addressed and portions of the park are re-opened.
Visiting The Forest of Nisene Marks
Off the beaten path, The Forest of Nisene Marks is a refreshing retreat from the busy towns and beaches along Highway 1 near Santa Cruz. Its dense second- and third-growth redwood forest rises from near sea level to steep coastal mountains.
Most visitors come to picnic near Aptos Creek or to hike, jog, or bike on 30 miles of trails in rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet. The park also has a trail camp six miles from the West Ridge trailhead.
The park’s land has a bittersweet beauty. Almost all of today’s redwood forest was clear-cut in a 40-year logging frenzy from 1883 to 1923. When the loggers left the Aptos Canyon, the forest began to heal itself; now, the scars grow fainter with each passing year. The Forest of Nisene Marks is a monument to forest regeneration and the future—it is a forest in a perpetual state of becoming.
The park's name honors Nisene Marks, the nature-loving mother of the Salinas farm family that bought the land in the 1950s. Her children donated almost 9,700 acres to the state in 1963 with the provision that the land never be developed. Today, the park showcases a forest in recovery, with rugged canyons and remnants of its once-bustling railroad and logging industry. A grove of ancient old-growth redwood trees near the Pourroy picnic area was preserved under private ownership and added to the park in recent years.
Picnic tables and barbecue pits are available.
• All natural and cultural features are protected by law and may not be disturbed or removed.
• To prevent erosion, stay on marked trails; observe all trail postings.
• By law, bicycling and mountain biking are allowed only on Aptos Creek Fire Road and four “hike-and-bike” single-track trails below the steel bridge. Cyclists may use Aptos Rancho Trail, Split Stuff Trail, Terrace Trail and Vienna Woods Trail.
• Except for service animals, dogs are allowed only on Aptos Creek Fire Road and the four single-track trails below the steel bridge (named above). Except for service animals, dogs are prohibited beyond the gate at the Porter picnic area parking lot. Animals must be attended and on leashes no longer than six feet at all times.
Location - Directions
Located off State Park Drive Exit, four miles north of Aptos on Aptos Creek Road
Seasons - Climate
The weather can change rapidly from cold and foggy to sunny and warm.
ACTIVITIES IN THE FOREST OF NISENE MARKS STATE PARK
We dig the trails! Volunteer with the Trail Crew!
Visit http://www.advocatesfnm.org/ for details.
The Nisene Marks Volunteer Trail Crew has helped make it possible for others to safely enjoy the beauty of our park. The Trail Crew meets the third Sunday of each month, rain or shine. A typical workday lasts until mid-afternoon. Please bring your own work gloves, lunch and water. Gain a unique perspective of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park; enjoy a lively and productive experience with others who share a love of these redwood forests. Learn the satisfaction of participating in a vital part of the park's ability to educate and inspire the public! Join us on the third Sundays, 9:30 AM at the entry kiosk. For more information, please contact http://www.advocatesfnm.org/.
Sponsored by the Advocates of Nisene Marks and the Nisene Marks Trail Crew
Available Activities and Facilities at The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park