Nisene Marks State Park

Located 7 miles south of Santa Cruz in the coastal and forest community of Aptos, Nisene Marks State Park is a haven in the quiet shade of huge redwood trees.  There are many trails open to hikers, mountain bikers and horses as well.  Many trails run parallel to the Aptos Creek and there are a few places to cross and continue exploration.  Unlike Wilder Ranch, Nisene Marks is completely sheltered by a thick green canopy of redwood trees and evokes the feel of an ancient forest even though all the trees are second growth.

To get there: take Highway 1 south from Santa Cruz and get off at State Park Drive.   Turn left off the exit and then right onto Soquel Drive.  Cross the bridge and take a left after the British Pub.  Park on the dirt and hike in for free or drive into the State Park and park at the ranger station at the head of the trail and pay the park day use fee.  

For bicycling through the Park (a fantastic way to see it), Santa Cruz Bike Tours does a great job, and actually guides you through the Park. To rent bikes and tour on your own, try Family Cycling Rentals .