If you're near Santa Cruz and want to take your fur buddy hiking, the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is pawrfect. While you and your doggo can't go exploring just anywhere in the ten thousand acre forest area, there are four great hike and bike trails, plus an old fire road where pups are allowed to be so long as you have them leashed. In total, that's over twenty miles of trails, so there's plenty of hiking options for you and your pup.
Of the pet-friendly trails in the Forest of Nisene Marks, the Aptos Creek Fire Road, at fifteen miles, is the longest. The trailhead can be reached after driving for around one mile from the town of Aptos along Aptos Creek Road to the forest entrance station. There is an $8 day-use charge for vehicles. Your pup needs to be leashed while you're hiking. This trail is a wide, shady path lined with redwoods which your fur buddy will love trekking down. There are rustic bridges which cross over small creeks and lots of bird life to see. You can take your pup for a splash in the creek if you want to, they'll love it, but they will get muddy.
The other four pup-friendly trails in the forest all fork off from Aptos Fire Creek Road so you can take a diversion if you want to. The Vienna Woods Trail is a mile long hike through denser forest with heavier undergrowth. The Terrace Trail winds along the forested banks of a river for around two and a half miles. The Aptos Rancho is a four-mile multi-purpose section of the trail which is popular with cyclists too, so it carries more traffic than the others. The Split Stuff Trail is only a quarter of a mile long, so it's short enough to add on as an extra hike to investigate with your furry buddy on the way back to the car. Your pup will love exploring these puptastic trails!