For a nature adventure that's off the beaten path, look no further than the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos! Nestled among bustling towns and beaches along Highway 1, this serene oasis draws two- and four-legged visitors alike with its rugged and beautiful semi-wilderness.
Nisene Marks is a pawpular hiking spot, with the park being mostly covered in coast redwood forest and featuring an elevation that ranges from sea level to steep coastal mountains. Not all trails welcome furry hikers, however, so be sure to stick to the designated paths if you're visiting with your pup. Leashed dogs are allowed on Aptos Creek Fire Road and four “hike-and-bike” single track trails below the steel bridge. Expect to encounter a variety of users on these paths, as they also accommodate bicycles and horses.
From the park entrance, you and Fido can access the Split Stuff and Aptos Rancho Trails, which lead to sunny and shady areas along the creek and connect with many other trails in the lower portion of the park. As you and your pooch make your way around the forest, keep your eyes peeled for its many inhabitants, including deer, raccoons, cougars, yellow-legged frogs, and the hard-to-miss banana slug.
The trails also pass by a couple of picnic areas where you and Fido can take a pawse from exploring and dig into a packed lunch. Don't forget to bring clean-up bags and plenty of water, too. The magnificent redwoods may keep the park cool, but it's still important to stay hydrated! Once you reach the gate at the Porter picnic area parking lot, stop and turn around, as pups are not allowed to go beyond this point.
Even though some parts of the park are off-limits to canines, the dog-friendly areas offer enough exciting sights and smells to keep your furry pal occupied. Your pooch will surely have an unfurgettable time at the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park!