Maple Falls - Route I
8.6 miles     800 ft
1 Mar 2014

An awesome hike to Maple Falls going through redwoods. There are multiple creek crossings without bridges in the last half mile. Best done after a thunderstorm because the waterfall is seasonal and short lived.

Location: Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Elevation Profile

Notes: Elevation profile is only for the return route. My GPS watch did not record the ascent to the falls.

Trip Planning

Trail Maps

» Official Brochure: Official Trail Map with details of both Forest of Nisene Marks and Soquel Demonstration Forest. The area close to Entrance Station in Forest of Nisene Marks is shown enlarged. Trail lengths are missing in this map.

» PeasePress Map: Trails of Santa Cruz: Excellent quality map showing various parks in the Santa Cruz area.


To Maple Falls: From George's Picnic Area, go along Aptos Creek Fire Road (0.4 + 0.7 + 0.2 miles) → Loma Prieta (0.6 + 0.1 miles) → Bridge Creek Trail to Maple Falls (1.4 + 0.5 miles).

To George's Picnic Area: You may return by the same route as above.

* Creek crossings: The last half mile to Maple Falls, beyond Bridge Creek Historic Site, is all along a creek. The trail switches from one side of the creek to the other almost a dozen times. After heavy rains, you would have to wade in about 6 to 12 inches of water for some of these crossings. Some spots require scrambling. In 2014, we could not find the trail and water level was low. So we waded inside the creek for some time to reach

* Side trip along Porter Trail: The overall experience may be enhanced by adding Porter Trail to the trip. It is a single track hiking trail that connects Mary Easton Picnic Area and Porter Family Picnic Area. There are two creek crossings without bridges along this trail. Both crossings are very close to Aptos Creek Fire Road. If the water level is too high, retrace your steps and follow Aptos Creek Fire Road instead of Porter Trail.


Location: Along Aptos Creek Road, about one mile north of intersection of Aptos Creek Road and Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA. Near 'Steel Bridge' and 'Winter Gate' in the official map. . No street address. Parking area is not visible in Google Maps.

Directions: From Highway 17 going south, go along CA-1 South. After about six miles, take Exit 435 for State Park Drive towards Aptos. Soon after the exit, turn left onto State Park Drive. After 0.3 miles, take the second right onto Soquel Drive. In half a mile, you will reach the intersection of Soquel Drive and Aptos Creek Road in Aptos, CA. Turn left onto Aptos Creek Road and drive about a mile to reach the Park Entrance kiosk where you would have to pay entrance fees. Drive another mile to reach George's Picnic Area, which is near 'Steel Bridge' and 'Winter Gate' in the official map.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: $8 per vehicle (last visited: March 2014)

Capacity: About 15 cars

Latitude: 36.997309     Longitude: -121.906507

Shaded Trails

All trails are shaded by tall trees.

Creek Crossings

By adding Porter Trail to the route, we had to cross the creek two more times, getting our feet wet.

Mini Waterfall

A small sized waterfall along the way. This is not Maple Falls.

Maple Falls

Water was cold. Still, most of us stood under the waterfall and posed for photos! In 2014, it had not rained much. So much less water than usual.

© Copyright 2008—2020, Gurmeet Manku.