After all the travel we’ve done recently, it’s been a bit hard to settle in at home again. When we moved to California twenty years ago we did a lot of exploring; everything was new and exciting. That feeling has worn off a bit but the beauty is still awe-inspiring. So it felt good to get out and into nature yesterday, spurred by an out-of-town visitor’s request to see redwoods.
One of my favorite places to take visitors who want to see the giant trees is the Forest of Nisene Marks in Aptos. Only 45 minutes from San Jose, it’s less crowded than Muir Woods and getting there doesn’t involve a carsick-inducing winding road like Big Basin.
While its logging history means that even the older sections are not the enormous old-growth trees you might see in some other parks, it’s convenient, peaceful, and absolutely beautiful.
We just went for a short afternoon trip. But if you have a full day, it’s easy to combine a short hike at Nisene Marks with a visit to nearby beach towns like Santa Cruz and Capitola, and even a visit to see the sea otters, seals, sea lions, pelicans, and other wildlife at Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing. If you have time, my favorite end to the day is a bowl of the amazing cioppino at Phil’s Fish Market!