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greenBlue Aptos Rancho Trail


1.8 mile 2.8 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 223' 68 m
Descent: -154' -47 m
High: 191' 58 m
Low: 72' 22 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 20% (11°)


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Trail shared by Joan Pendleton

A great trail through a mixed redwood forest along Aptos Creek and Aptos Creek Road.

Joan Pendleton

Features River/Creek

Family Friendly Short, easily accessible, picnic areas, toilets. Easy, shaded, and scenic hiking.

Forest of Nisene Marks State Park has a day use fee ($8 in 2017). Multi-day passes can also be purchased.


Aptos Rancho Trail runs along Aptos Creek, next to Aptos Creek Road, between the creek and the road. Several trails have trailheads along Aptos Rancho Trail. From their trailheads, these trails descend to cross Aptos Creek, and then continue west into the redwood forest. Aptos Rancho Trail also has numerous (too many to show) very short spurs, that go east and lead to Aptos Creek Road. In other words, one can easily get onto Aptos Rancho Trail and take it to trailheads of the other trails.

Specifically, besides the two ends of Aptos Rancho Trail, there are two other popular ways to access the Aptos Rancho Trail that are shown on the map. From the north end of the southern parking area in the state park, Waggoner Overlook Trail heads north to end at Aptos Rancho Trail. Typically, Waggoner Overlook Trail is used to get to and go north on Aptos Rancho Trail, to reach Terrace Trail and Vienna Woods Trail. Also, from the north end of the south parking area, to the left of Waggoner Overlook Trail, is Split Stuff Trail that also ends at Aptos Rancho Trail, and is a good way to get to Old Growth Loop Trail and Oak Ridge Trail.

Alternatively, if one does decide to hike Aptos Rancho Trail from its south trailhead, one finds this trailhead at the end of Aptos Rancho Road; this access is in a residential area so please be respectful of private property if accessing the trail from here. From this trailhead, the trail descends into the woods, reaches Aptos Creek at the 0.3 mile mark, and crosses it. After crossing the creek, the trail runs through brush next to the creek, and then climbs into the drier woods about 0.5 miles from the trailhead. Redwoods, ferns, and other trees and low vegetation abound in this forest making for a great hike through shady and lush forest. Between the shade and the creek, this is an excellent spot on those hot summer days.

About 0.6 miles from its trailhead, Aptos Rancho Trail passes the well marked Old Growth Loop Trail trailhead on the left (west), Shortly after that, Split Split Stuff Trail and Waggoner Overlook Trail that lead to the parking area, as described above, are passed on the right (east).

Continuing through the lush redwood forest, with Aptos Creek below to the left of the trail, Aptos Rancho Trail then comes to the southern Terrace Trail trailhead at the 1.0 mile mark, followed shortly later by a Vienna Woods Trail trailhead. Both of these trailheads are to the left (west), and their trails immediately descend to cross Aptos Creek. The Terrace Trail trailhead is marked, but the Vienna Woods Trail trailhead is not marked.

At the 1.6 mile mark, the marked northern Terrace Trail trailhead is found on the left (west). Aptos Rancho Trail ends at another parking area after 0.2 miles.

Flora & Fauna

Redwood, oak, cedar, and other trees. Ferns and other low vegetation.


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Aug 14, 2018
Jon Dilworth
A gem of the wild in a busy area 1.8mi
Dec 4, 2017
Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote


  3.0 from 1 vote
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