Hiking Project Logo

This redwood-forest trail climbs to pleasant ocean views.

Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key





Point to Point

2,585' 788 m


240' 73 m


2,523' 769 m


516' 157 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (9°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · Views

Forest of Nisene Marks State Park has a day use fee ($8.00 in 2017). Multi-day passes can also be purchased.

Popular with mountain bikers, this trail is wide (so there is plenty of room) but the mountain bikers can come downhill fast. It's best to stay out of the way toward the sides of the trail.


The trail is an extension of Aptos Creek Road. Aptos Creek Fire Road begins at a parking area in Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, where further vehicle travel on Aptos Creek Road ends at a gate. The trailhead is well marked.

Trail Start to Sand Point Overlook (mile 0 - 5.8)
Aptos Creek Fire Road begins in the thick redwood forest along Aptos Creek. It follows Aptos Creek upstream in the redwood forest, passing several old logging historical sites. There are informational plaques along the way that describe the history. Trail junctions with trails that access waterfalls, more historical sites, and the epi-center of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake (magnitude 6.9) are also passed. At mile 1.6, the trail leaves Aptos Creek behind as it climbs a redwood-forested ridge. The trail continues winding its way along the redwood-forested hillside to Sand Point Overlook at mile 5.8. Views of the Pacific Ocean in the distance emerge as the trail approaches this overlook.

Sand Point Overlook to Soquel Demonstration Forest Ridge Trail (mile 5.8 - 9.1)
After passing Sand Point Overlook, Aptos Creek Fire Road continues to wind its way through the redwood forest, climbing gradually as it goes. This section runs along a hillside just below the ridge top. Through the trees, there are views of the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean in places where the trees thin. As the trail climbs, redwoods become scarcer, and oaks, manzanita, and firs take over. At mile 9.1, the trail reaches its high point at a trail junction with Ridge Trail. Go straight here on the wide fire road to stay on Aptos Creek Fire Road.

Soquel Demonstration Forest Ridge Trail to Buzzard Lagoon Road (mile 9.1 - 11.4)
After passing the Ridge Trail, Aptos Creek Fire Road levels off for a short ways. Here at the trail's high point, there are magnificent views out to the Pacific Ocean. Santa Rosalia Mountain is then passed. There is a short unmarked side path to the wooded summit of Santa Rosalia Mountain (Santa Rosalia Mountain Summit Path) at mile 9.65, that then rejoins the trail at mile 9.90. The summit is barely higher than the main trail, and views from it are limited due to the trees. After passing Santa Rosalia Mountain, the trail begins to descend gradually. As the trail descends, it re-enters redwood forest. After 11.4 miles, the trail ends at Buzzard Lagoon Road, a dirt road that is open to motorized vehicle traffic.

Flora & Fauna

Redwoods, firs, oaks, manzanita, and other vegetation and brush grow here.


Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes


  4.0 from 2 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Trail Rankings


in California


10 Views Last Month
1,960 Since Dec 10, 2017
Intermediate Intermediate



Looking past the redwoods to the Pacific Ocean in the distance, from Sand Point Overlook
Dec 10, 2017 near Day Valley, CA
The Pacific Ocean sparkles on a clear December afternoon, from high on Aptos Creek Fire Road.
Dec 21, 2017 near Day Valley, CA
The Santa Cruz Mountains and Pacific Ocean in the distance, are seen through firs along Aptos Creek Fire Road
Dec 21, 2017 near Day Valley, CA
Redwood trees, giant redwood trees in the redwood forest along Aptos Creek Fire Road
Dec 10, 2017 near Day Valley, CA
Aptos Creek Fire Road crosses Aptos Creek on the picturesque Margaret's Bridge
Dec 10, 2017 near Aptos, CA
A HUGE (about 10 feet across) old growth redwood, escaped both logging and fire, to dominate the redwoods around it today.
Dec 21, 2017 near Day Valley, CA



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Feb 19, 2018
Lawrence Wang
Aptos Creek Trail is closed near Epicenter, requiring taking ACFR further to Big Slide to access Five Fingers 13.3mi — 5h 17m
Dec 9, 2017
Joan Pendleton

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started