The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

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The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Nisene Marks redwood.jpg
Redwood trees in the Forest of Nisene Marks
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Map showing the location of The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
LocationSanta Cruz, California, USA
Nearest cityAptos, California
Coordinates37°3′N 121°53′W / 37.050°N 121.883°W / 37.050; -121.883Coordinates: 37°3′N 121°53′W / 37.050°N 121.883°W / 37.050; -121.883
Area10,223 acres (41.37 km2)
Governing bodyCalifornia Department of Parks and Recreation

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is a state park of California, USA, protecting a tract of secondary forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is located outside Aptos, California and contains over 40 miles (64 km) of hiking trails and fire roads through 10,223 acres (4,137 ha) of variable terrain. The park was named for Nisene Marks, a passionate nature lover and the mother of a Salinas farming family that purchased the land from lumber companies (and others) in the hopes of finding oil. After drilling efforts failed to find any oil, Marks' children donated the original 9,700 acres (3,900 ha) of land in her memory to the state of California (with the help of the Nature Conservancy) in 1963.[1]

The California State Parks department, with additional help from the Save the Redwoods League, expanded the park to 10,036 acres (4,061 ha). The park is on land that was clearcut during a forty-year period of logging (1883–1923) by the Loma Prieta Lumber Company. Visitors can still find evidence of logging operations, mill sites and trestles in the park. The park offers rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet (790 m). Today the park is a popular spot for running, hiking and horseback riding. Mountain biking is restricted to the fire road as of 2004 because of deed restrictions regarding the state park. Picnic tables and barbecue pits are available. A trail camp is located 6 miles (9.7 km) from the nearest parking lot. Dogs are allowed only along the entrance road and in the picnic areas and must be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times. Backpack camping is also available.[2]

The epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989 was in this park at coordinates 37.03° N 121.88° W.[3]

The quake's epicenter and Five Finger Falls are the two most popular attractions in the park. In early 2007, there was landslide on Aptos Creek Trail which leads to Five Finger Falls and the trail was closed. As of 2013, the trail has been cleared, and with the addition of a new bridge, is once more accessible via the Aptos Creek Trail. Before the trail restoration, the waterfall was only reachable by a longer route, the Big Slide Trail.

Natural history[edit]

Wholly 4/5ths of the park is covered in dense redwood forest. Chaparral is found on a few of the hotter, steeper ridges. Douglas firs grow among redwoods in a number of areas; they are not a major component of forest south of the park. Other trees species include: alders, maples, and cottonwoods near creeks; tanoaks in the understory of redwoods; and Pacific madrone, California bay, and several oak species.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomson, Jeff (1995). Explore... The Forest of Nisene Marks. Soquel: Walkabout Publications.
  2. ^ "The Forest of Nisene Marks SP". California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  3. ^ Stoffer, Phil (2005-11-27). "Chapter 4 - Forest of Nisene Marks State Park: Epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake" (PDF). USGS. Retrieved 2016-10-28.

External links[edit]