The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is a state park of California, USA, protecting a tract of secondary forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is located outside Aptos, California and contains over 40 miles (64 km) of hiking trails and fire roads through 10,223 acres (4,137 ha) of variable terrain. The park was named for Nisene Marks, a passionate nature lover and the mother of a Salinas farming family that purchased the land from lumber companies (and others) in the hopes of finding oil. After drilling efforts failed to find any oil, Marks' children donated the original 9,700 acres (3,900 ha) of land in her memory to the state of California (with the help of the Nature Conservancy) in 1963.
The California State Parks department, with additional help from the Save the Redwoods League, expanded the park to 10,036 acres (4,061 ha). The park is on land that was clearcut during a forty-year period of logging (1883–1923) by the Loma Prieta Lumber Company. Visitors can still find evidence of logging operations, mill sites and trestles in the park. The park offers rugged semi-wilderness, rising from sea level to steep coastal mountains of more than 2,600 feet (790 m). Today the park is a popular spot for running, hiking and horseback riding. Mountain biking is restricted to the fire road as of 2004 because of deed restrictions regarding the state park. Picnic tables and barbecue pits are available. A trail camp is located 6 miles (9.7 km) from the nearest parking lot. Dogs are allowed only along the entrance road and in the picnic areas and must be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times. Backpack camping is also available.
The epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989 was in this park at coordinates 37.03° N 121.88° W.
The quake's epicenter and Five Finger Falls are the two most popular attractions in the park. In early 2007, there was landslide on Aptos Creek Trail which leads to Five Finger Falls and the trail was closed. As of 2013, the trail has been cleared, and with the addition of a new bridge, is once more accessible via the Aptos Creek Trail. Before the trail restoration, the waterfall was only reachable by a longer route, the Big Slide Trail.
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