Travel off the beaten path at The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos, California. With over 30 miles of trails to jog, bike, and hike, The Forest of Nisene Marks has much to explore. The state park is named after Danish immigrant, Nisene Marks, who was an accomplished farmer in the Salinas Valley. Over time, Marks, along with her four children, accumulated a small fortune of property in Monterey County. In 1963, her children deeded the amassed property to the State of California. There was only one contingency – the property needed to be properly named in memory of their mother Nisene Marks (die in 1955).
Around 10,000 acres of second-growth redwoods and oak groves are waiting to be discovered. These redwoods could have seen as much as 120 years of visitors and can reach a height of 125 feet. Be prepared to encounter various animals, such as deer, cougars, frogs, and much more.
One of the best aspects of The Forest of Nisene Marks is that since there are so many random trails that have been created over the many years, you have the opportunity to take various paths and become a true explorer. Some of the main trails include:
- Short Historic Loop – This 2-mile hike takes you past the historic Loma Prieta Mill Site and the Porter House Site.
- Loma Prieta Grade – This was the last area to be logged from 1917 to 1921.
- West Ridge Trail – With an elevation of 1,600 feet, you can get a view of Monterey Bay on the Sand Point Overlook.
- Aptos Creek Fire Road – Access for hikers and cyclists to enjoy the 10 miles of trail.
- Aptos Creek Trail – Close to the trail head is the epicenter of the Loma Prieta Earthquake that occurred on October 17, 1989.
- Porter Trail – This connects the Porter Family Picnic Area to the Mary Easton Picnic Area.
Time to travel off the beaten path at The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park down by the bay.