The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

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The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Nisene Marks redwood.jpg
Redwood trees in the Forest of Nisene Marks
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
LocationSanta Cruz, California, USA
Nearest cityAptos, California
Coordinates37°3′N 121°53′W / 37.050°N 121.883°W / 37.050; -121.883Coordinates: 37°3′N 121°53′W / 37.050°N 121.883°W / 37.050; -121.883
Area10,223 acres (41.37 km2)
Governing bodyCalifornia Department of Parks and Recreation

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is a state park of California, USA, protecting a secondary forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is located outside Aptos, California and contains over 40 miles (64 km) of hiking trails and fire roads through 10,223 acres (4,137 ha) of variable terrain.


The park was named after Nisene Marks, a passionate nature lover and the mother of a Salinas farming family that purchased the land from lumber companies (and others) in the hopes of finding oil. After drilling efforts failed to find any oil, Marks' children donated the original 9,700 acres (3,900 ha) of land in her memory to the state of California (with the help of the Nature Conservancy) in 1963.[1]

The California State Parks department, with additional help from the Save the Redwoods League, expanded the park to 10,036 acres (4,061 ha). The park is on land that was clearcut during a forty-year period of logging (1883–1923) by the Loma Prieta Lumber Company. Evidence of logging operations, mill sites and trestles is visible in the park. The park offers rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet (790 m). The park is a popular spot for running, hiking and horseback riding. Mountain biking is restricted to the fire road as of 2004 because of deed restrictions regarding the state park.

The epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989 was in this park.[2] The quake's epicenter and Five Finger Falls are the two most popular attractions in the park. In early 2007, there was landslide on Aptos Creek Trail which leads to Five Finger Falls and the trail was closed. As of 2013, the trail has been cleared, and with the addition of a new bridge, is once more accessible via the Aptos Creek Trail. 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] The entrance station cannot process credit cards at this time; we recommend bringing exact change.

BICYCLES are allowed only on Aptos Creek Fire Roak 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.

Natural history[edit]

Four-fifths of the park is covered in dense redwood forest. Chaparral is found on a few of the hotter, steeper ridges. Douglas firs grow among redwoods in a number of areas. Other trees species include: alders, maples, and cottonwoods near creeks; tanoaks in the understory of redwoods; and Pacific madrone, California bay, and several oak species.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomson, Jeff (1995). Explore... The Forest of Nisene Marks. Soquel: Walkabout Publications.
  2. ^ Stoffer, Phil (2005-11-27). "Chapter 4 - Forest of Nisene Marks State Park: Epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake" (PDF). The San Andreas Fault In The San Francisco Bay Area, California: A Geology Fieldtrip Guidebook To Selected Stops On Public Lands. USGS. Retrieved 2016-10-28.

External links[edit]