Sunrise to Sunset
The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Dogs allowed below Portner Picnic Area.
Driving Directions to The Forest of Nisene Marks SPThe park is four miles north of Aptos on Aptos Creek Road.
Interested in joining a guided hike with a state park interpreter? Click this link to register https://SantaCruzStateParks.as.me/NiseneMarksHike.
Upcoming Park Events
No events scheduled at this moment.
Winter Storm Closures
Due to a forecasted severe winter storm, several state parks in coastal Santa Cruz County will be closed on Tuesday, March 28. Parks will be evaluated for reopening on Wednesday, March 29.
Parks that will be closed include:
o Wilder Ranch State Park
o Natural Bridges State Beach
o Lighthouse Field State Beach
o Schwann Lake trail area and Blacks Beach at Twin Lakes State Beach
o New Brighton State Beach
o The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
o Uplands day-use area of Manresa State Beach
o Upper area of Sunset State Beach
o Palm State Beach
Please be aware that additional strong weather systems or damage from previous storms may cause additional or extended park closures.
Partial Park ClosureThe Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is closed to vehicles due to a major road failure, downed trees, and mudslides. The park is open to pedestrians and bicyclists up to the Winter Gate only due to unsafe conditions.
Looking for your next adventure?
California State Parks Backpacking Adventures offers naturalist-led backpacking trips through the Santa Cruz Mountains each summer. Online registration opens March 1 at 9am.
Artists, we have a special backpacking trip option for you: the Big Basin Artabout! Ten artists will be chosen to particpate in the first backpacking trip in Big Basin since the CZU Lightning Complex Fire on June 3-4, 2023. Artists will recieve a $2500 stipend and will create an artistic piece in the medium of their choice inspired by the trip to be displayed in the park! The deadline to apply is April 28, 2023. For more information, visit the Big Basin Artabout website.
To sign up for guided hikes and other park programs in Santa Cruz-area State Parks, visit www.santacruzstateparks.as.me to see the schedule and make reservations.
Crumb Clean Campaign
This park is Crumb Clean! Watch this short video to learn about the marbled murrelet, an endangered bird that nests in the park, and how you can protect it. Vea el video en español aquí.
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’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 approximately 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.
Basic Park Information
FEES - There is a $8 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $8 (Senior $7, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]
BICYCLES are allowed only on Aptos Creek Fire Road and four "hike-and-bike" single track trails below the steel bridge - the four trails are Aptos Rancho Trail, Split Stuff Trail, Terrace Trail, and Vienna Woods Trail.
DOGS are only allowed 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. Dogs must be attended and on leashes no longer than six feet at all times. For a list of locations you can take your dog in Santa Cruz County, please click here.
HORSES are only allowed and the four single-track trails below the steel bridge (named above). Horses are not allowed past the steel bridge.
CAMPING - there is currently no camping in the park. West Ridge Trail Camp is closed.
FIRES are not allowed anywhere in the park.
Please click here to arrange an interpretive talk or guided experience for your organized community group (minimum 10 total participants, minimum 2 weeks' lead time). These interpretive services are contingent upon staff availability.
Volunteer with the Trail Crew
Visit http://www.advocatesfnm.org/ for details.
The Nisene Marks Volunteer Trail Crew helps make it possible for everyone to safely enjoy the beauty of our park. The Trail Crew meets the third Sunday of each month at 9:30am at the entrance kiosk, 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! Event made possible by the Advocates of Nisene Marks and the Nisene Marks Trail Crew.