The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

30.00 Miles
4stars (4.00)1
4stars (4.00)
3stars (3.00)
Santa Cruz
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There are plenty of large Redwoods here and they're getting bigger. Coppertone looks skyward for a glimpse. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Redwoods everywhere
Coppertone on the upper reaches of Loma Prieta Grade. We found some of the largest stumps here, evidence of logging years ago. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Narrow pass
Coppertone and a couple of other visitors navigate a narrow, but clear path through the canyon. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Rugged terrain
Coppertone stops for a moment on the way out of the canyon showing the tangled mess of rocks and trees that had to be navigated. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Upper falls
A higher view of Maple Falls showing its upper reaches. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone at the falls
Coppertone poses at the base of Maple Falls. By this time a surprising number of people had joined us. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Maple Falls
We finally reach our goal, the real Maple Falls. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
More challenging
The trail leading to Maples Falls gets rougher with numerous creek crossings. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
False Falls
At first we were not sure if this was Maples Falls or not. It's not. We had to keep going upstream. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Bridge Creek
Bridge Creek Trail as it parallels and crosses its namesake. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Creek Crossing
Coppertone looks enthusiastic about this creek crossing. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone on the trail
Coppertone stops for a moment on the trail. Note the lichens growing on the steep rock to the left. (Photo by Austin Explorer)

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Log Entries
Just keep going
By Austin Explorer on 5/14/2016
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 12.87 Miles Duration: 6 hours, 29 minutes

When looking over the map of Nisene Marks the appearance of falls on a trail is a natural magnet for Coppertone.  So we intended to drive as far into the park as possible and hike to Maple Falls.  Our plan to park at Porter Family Picnic Area was foiled by road damage that required we park by the Steel Bridge instead, adding at least an extra mile to our day.

We hike up Loma Prieta Grade and onto Bridge Creek Trail, which means a relatively steading ascent that's not too bad.  We came upon a nice little waterfall on the east side of the canyon and wondered if this was Maple Falls.  It didn't seem significant enough for its own marker on the map.  A group passed us by and keep going upstream, so we followed.

As the trail continued up Bridge Creek the hiking almost turned into canyoneering.  The trail crosses back and forth over the creek seeking out the easiest way forward.  Scrambling over boulders, ducking under fallen trees and even balancing on a horizontal trunk were all called for.

And finally, we arrived at what was unquestionably Maple Falls.  Far more impressive that the small falls earlier and a clear stopping point as the canyon walls go completely vertical all around.

We took the slightly more circuitous route down Loma Prieta Grade instead of taking Bridge Creek on the way back to our trailhead.  We found some of the largest Redwood stumps we'd ever seen here, testiment to the heavy logging that used to take place.

After almost 13 miles of hiking we were ready for a rest and a meal!

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