Contact Number

  • (831) 763-7063

Park Accessibility Information

Park Hours

  • Sunrise to Sunset

Park Activities

Dogs allowed below Portner Picnic Area.
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Interpretive Exhibits
Hiking Trails

Park Facilities

Environmental Campsites


Park Directions

Get directions through Google Maps

The park is four miles north of Aptos on Aptos Creek Road.

Limited Road and Trail Access 

Due to a portion of road erosion, vehicle access is limited to single lane in some areas. Please take caution due to the high volume of pedestrian traffic on the roadway.

The following trails and areas are closed until further notice due to storm damage and erosion:
  • West Ridge Trail Camp
  • Aptos Creek Trail
  • The Trail to Five Finger Falls closed at the Big Slide Trail/ Aptos Creek Trail intersect

Forest Health & Fuel Reduction Project

A forest health and fuel reduction project along the upper portions of Aptos Creek Fire Road in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is planned for mid-July 2024 through December 2024. Severe weather may delay progress and cause project extensions.

Heavy machinery will operate near roads and trails within the project area. For visitor safety, trails and roads in the project area will close occasionally when equipment is working nearby. Project staff will be on site to direct visitors who miss trail closure signs. Project work will occur during business hours, Monday through Friday. There will be no project operations or trail closures on Saturdays or Sundays. 

This project will improve emergency access during wildfires and improve forest health and ecosystem function. The project will also prepare the area for prescribed fire, which will reduce fuel loads and enhance biodiversity.

No parking on Aptos Creek Road (park entrance road) allowed.

Looking for your next adventure?

California State Parks Backpacking Adventures offers naturalist-led backpacking trips through the Santa Cruz Mountains each summer, including our NEW "Cars-BA" Family Camp at Big Basin! Online registration is open now!

View our guided hikes and other public programs schedule and make a reservation by visiting our Parks Events page!

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. 


Community Groups

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 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 Marksand the Nisene Marks Trail Crew.


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