Hike to Nisene Marks' Maple Falls

San Francisco Aptos Creek Fire Road

Added by Joshua Scruggs

This hike in Nisene Marks leads through a scenic forest views ending at the falls. Be prepared for several creek crossings.

As you enter the park, you'll need to pay $8 for parking via a self-pay envelope, so it's recommended that you bring exact change. At the park booth, be sure to grab a map. The hike can be a little tricky with no cell service and limited trail signage. Once you've grabbed your map, keep driving past the booth, there are parking areas available further up the road.

During the winter, you'll have to park near the first bridge, but for all other parts of the year, you'll want to park at the George's Picnic Area (36.997309 -121.906507). If you're planning to hike during winter months, be prepared to add a few miles to your hike depending on the parking situation. Add a little extra water and snacks to the pack and make sure you get on the trail a couple hours earlier.

Starting this hike from George's Picnic Area, head out on the Aptos Creek Fire Road for about 1.25 miles until you reach Loma Prieta. Take Loma Preita for 0.7 miles until you reach the Bridge Creek Trail. This trail will take you to the falls in approximately 2 miles.

Make sure you watch your time when starting the hike. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time before sunset - also, it never hurts to throw a flashlight or headlamp in your backpack just in case.

Here's a brochure of the state park: The Forest of Nisene Marks Brochure

Pack List

  • 10 Essentials
  • Sturdy hiking shoes or boots
  • Towel if you choose to cool off in the falls
  • $8 for parking (bring exact change)
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

8.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

900 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

13 days ago

Such a blast!

Amazing hike through Redwoods, several small waterfalls, creek & tree crossings, leading up to the main beauty - Maple Falls! Definitely recommend wearing waterproof shoes with a ton of grip and even ankle support as some parts can be slippery, sandy, and muddy. It took around 4 hours round trip at a mellow pace and so many photo opportunities! Can't wait to go back!

13 days ago

9 months ago

Unbelievably Beautiful

El Niño has brought a lot of water to California making this hike a must. Maple Falls has more water than I've ever seen in it and the forest is an amazing green.

9 months ago

about 1 year ago

The gate on the fire road is closed during the winter, but the trail is still accessible, adding an extra few miles to a beautiful hike.

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

Super lovely hike. We saw what appeared to be a seashell fossil in a rock and ate lunch straddling the log over the waterfall! Lots of opportunities for pictures throughout the hike.

about 1 year ago

Added by Joshua Scruggs

Bay Area-based outdoor enthusiast. I'm into hiking, backpacking, camping, surfing, snowboarding, trail running, wildlife / nature photography and pretty much anything else that gets me outdoors. The pursuit is happiness : )

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve Loop

San Francisco / Monte Bello Open Space Parking

This hike is best done in the late fall, winter, and spring so that the creek is running and the hills are green.

Hike Montgomery Woods State Nature Reserve Loop

San Francisco / Montgomery Woods SNR

This is a great find. We saw it on the map it was on the way from Mendocino to our next stop, Napa Valley. So glad we took the time to visit.

John Maurizi
3 Saves

Marin Headlands Trail Loop

San Francisco / Marin Headlands Trail via Coastal Trail

This trail starts at the Coastal Trail in Marin Headlands Park, where there's a small parking lot and outhouse bathroom off the circle when coming from Conzelman Road.

Jaime B
3 Saves