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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

The Forest of Nisene Marks

March 13th, 2009 · 3 Comments

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John and I hiked 12 fast miles yesterday with our friend Becky. We hadn’t intended such a long hike.

John and Becky both love waterfalls. We were headed toward Maple Falls, which none of us had ever seen. But we missed a trail junction and just kept hiking up the “wrong” trail.

Consequently, we had a great time. If we had found the trail that we were looking for, we would have had to wade across the creek several times. At this season the water runs high, and we would have had very wet and cold feet.

We hiked in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park near Aptos, a dozen miles south of Santa Cruz. The children of Nisene Marks donated the land in 1963, naming it for their mother, a passionate lover of nature.

The trailhead is just a mile from where Catherine and I had lived for several years before we moved to Boulder. Of course, Catherine and I hiked the park many times. But never nearly as far as John, Becky, and I did yesterday.

Becky is by far the best hiker. She was especially fast yesterday because she had to give piano lessons to some students at 4 p.m. So that she could keep her appointment, we fairly raced along at a 3 mph clip.

Still, we had time for a pleasant lunch at the point on the trail where we decided to give up our quest for Maple Falls and retreat to civilization:

Becky and John Where We Lunched

Becky and John Where We Lunched

John, Me, and Redwoods at Our Lunch Place

John, Me, and Redwoods at Our Lunch Place

The forest is wet, lush, and green. While today was bright and clear, rain falls heavily here, feeding Aptos Creek:

Aptos Creek

Aptos Creek

The biggest tree in the park is an old-growth redwood. As a true tree-hugger, I tried to embrace it. But failed:

Big Tree, Little Man

Big Tree, Little Man

After Becky made it in time for the piano lesson she gave this afternoon, John and I went out to dinner on the Santa Cruz Wharf. We each had the most marvelous fish stew either of us had ever tasted at his favorite restaurant, Stagnaro’s:

John\'s Favorite Restaurant

John's Favorite Restaurant

From the wharf we looked back at the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk:

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk

John’s father had managed restaurants there back in the 1930s. The Boardwalk is the one place in Santa Cruz that has changed very little in John’s and my lifetime.


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Posted in: Hiking

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Zane Moore // Mar 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Hey! I saw your huge old growth tree picture! Where is that in the park? That is in Nisene Marks, right? I haven’t found that tree yet! Please give me any information that you can that will help me find this! Thanks,

    Zane Moore

  • 2 Zane Moore // Mar 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I am currently looking througout the park for a huge tree like that. My dad and I have found over 30 trees off trail in Nisene that are old-growths. This tree that you have a picture of I have not found. If you could help me find it by giving me an idea of where it is, I would be forever greatful. Thanks in advanced for your information,

    Zane Moore

  • 3 David Mendosa // Mar 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Dear Zane,

    I can direct you to that big tree. It is actually just off the entrance road, not far from the start. It is on the right side as you go into Nicene Marks. There is a chain or wooden fence around it, as I remember. You should also be able to see it on a good park map.

    Best regards,


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