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Maple Falls Hike

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

Location : The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Aptos, CA

Parking : $8

Trail type : Out and Back

Trail Length : 8.6 miles

Elevation Gain : 800ft

Difficulty : Moderate

Trails traversed : Aptos Creek Fire Road > Loma Prieta > Bridge Creek Trail > Maple Falls

Post hike grub suggestion : Parish Publick House, Aptos, CA

This is one of the most fun hikes I have done in the Bay Area, mostly because there are so many creek crossings that the trail becomes an obstacle course towards the end of the hike. We went on a crisp winter morning and found ourselves in the midst of autumn colors and falling leaves all along the trail. The hike takes you through a peaceful redwood forest ending at Maple Falls.

Colorful fallen leaves along the trail

The trail is located in Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos. Once you enter the park and pay the entrance fee, continue driving on the fire road all the way till the road ends at George's Picnic Area. You will find ample parking here if you arrive early in the day. After parking your car, cross the iron gates and follow the Aptos Creek Fire Road trail for about 1.25 miles, until you reach Loma Prieta trail. Continue on Loma Prieta trail for about 0.7 miles, until it intersects Bridge Creek Trail. Bridge Creek Trail will take you all the way to the falls.

Most of Bridge Creek Trail runs by the side of the creek and will require crossing the creek at many points. When we went in December of 2020, it was a dry season and water level was low. We could skip over stones without getting our feet wet. The creek level maybe higher during a wet winter. So come prepared with an extra pair of socks and clothes you dont mind getting wet in. The thick, dense redwood forest offers complete shade all along the trail and the ground is carpeted with fallen leaves which cushion your footsteps.

The occasional rays of sun streaming through the redwoods, bathe you in warm light every once in a while.

After multiple creek crossings and climbing over fallen tree trunks and large boulder the trail finally leads you to the beautiful falls. A tall fallen tree trunk adds character to the falls and challenges adventurous hikers to a balancing act. This is a good spot to refuel and for some final photo ops before retracing your steps back to the parking lot.

Maple Falls

Maple leaves at Maple Falls


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