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The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park



  • Directions

  • Size

    9973.75 acres

Contact Information


Off the beaten path, The Forest of Nisene Marks is a refreshing retreat from the busy towns and beaches along Highway 1 near Santa Cruz. Its dense second- and third-growth redwood forest rises from near sea level to steep coastal mountains. Most visitors come to picnic near Aptos Creek or to hike, jog, or bike on 30 miles of trails in rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet. The park’s land has a bittersweet beauty. Almost all of today’s redwood forest was clear-cut in a 40-year logging frenzy from 1883 to 1923. When the loggers left the Aptos Canyon, the forest began to heal itself; now, the scars grow fainter with each passing year. The Forest of Nisene Marks is a monument to forest regeneration and the future—it is a forest in a perpetual state of becoming. The park's name honors Nisene Marks, the nature-loving mother of the Salinas farm family that bought the land in the 1950s. Her children donated approximately 9,700 acres to the state in 1963 with the provision that the land never be developed. Today, the park showcases a forest in recovery, with rugged canyons and remnants of its once-bustling railroad and logging industry. A grove of ancient old-growth redwood trees near the Pourroy picnic area was preserved under private ownership and added to the park in recent years.

FEES - There is a $8 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $8 (Senior $7, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]

BICYCLES are allowed only on Aptos Creek Fire Road and four "hike-and-bike" single track trails below the steel bridge - the four trails are Aptos Rancho Trail, Split Stuff Trail, Terrace Trail, and Vienna Woods Trail.

DOGS are only allowed on Aptos Creek fire Road and the four single-track trails below the steel bridge (named above). Except for service animals, dogs are prohibited beyond the gate at the Porter picnic area parking lot. Dogs must be attended and on leashes no longer than six feet at all times. For a list of locations you can take your dog in Santa Cruz County, please click here.

HORSES are only allowed and the four single-track trails below the steel bridge (named above). Horses are not allowed past the steel bridge.

CAMPING - there is currently no camping in the park. West Ridge Trail Camp is closed. FIRES are not allowed anywhere in the park.

Allowed Activities
Dog Walking
Mountain Biking
Trail Running
Wildlife Watching
Good For
Rules & Regulation
Carry Out Trash
Dogs Permitted With Restrictions
No Campfires
Pack Out Dog Waste
Dogs On Leash

Additional Information

Save the Redwoods League

Save the Redwoods League

Since our founding in 1918, Save the Redwoods League, a nonprofit organization, has been singularly focused on protecting this ancient treasure. The League has protected more than 200,000 acres of redwood forests and helped create 66 redwood parks and reserves by purchasing redwood forests and the surrounding land needed to nurture them. We restore redwood forests by innovating science and technology that can improve stewardship and accelerate forest regeneration. And most important, we have touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people by connecting them to nature. The League’s work is grounded in the principles of conservation biology, research and improving our collective understanding and appreciation of the redwoods.

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (Friends) is a vital partner with California State Parks, creatively working to ensure our cherished local parks and beaches are thriving and available to all. Friends’ innovative and collaborative community partnership provides support and investment for education, equity and inclusion, conservation, facilities improvements, historic preservation and cultural events.

Social Media

Instagram - @nisenemarks.sp

Nisene State Parks Instagram

Special Event Permits

Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks

Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks

    Trail work Days in the Park

    Join us! Every 3rd Sunday of the month the Advocates meet in the park for trail work days. Meet at the main entrance kiosk desk at 9:30 am for refreshments and trail work kickoff. As the state budget cutbacks have severely hampered the ability of the CA State Parks to upgrade and maintain the park, it is necessary for the active park users to pitch in and help. Through the Advocates, park users, with donations of time and/or money, can help maintain trails, build capital improvement projects (such as building an outhouse or decking a new bridge), sponsor special events (such as a presentation on the history of the park), and work to address the needs of various user groups.

The Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is a non-profit volunteer organization founded by local community members to support the park. The Advocates are a strong partner with the California State Parks in driving, financing, and implementing capital improvements and special projects.

Seasonal Employment

State Parks relies upon the hard work of seasonal employees, and a seasonal position is a great way to begin a career with State Parks. The Santa Cruz District of California State Parks includes parks along the coast from Watsonville to Daly City and parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Santa Cruz District hires Interpretive/Public Education employees in the springtime to work in the campgrounds during the summer and hires Maintenance and Visitor Assistance employees year-round according to park operational need. These listings are for Interpretation/Public Education, Maintenance and Visitor Assistance positions in the Santa Cruz District of California State Parks.

For further job information in the Santa Cruz District, please call the district office at (831) 335-6318.

Santa Cruz District employment opportunities

Visitor Service Aide with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Friends of Santa Cruz State Park Job Opportunities

Visitor Service Operations with California State Parks

Create a CalCareers account to apply online

Fill out a Standard State Application to apply in person or e-mail applications to

Maintenance Aide

For more information call (831) 335-6318.

Seasonal Interpreter

The Santa Cruz District recruits seasonal interpreters in early spring, to work during the summer (mid-May through Labor Day in September). Interpreters provide high quality educational experiences for the public by researching, developing, promoting, and conducting natural and cultural history programs.

Flexible part-time to full-time work.

For more information, email

Hours of Operation

Sunrise to Sunset