DISTANCE: 6.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 823 ft.
TIME TAKEN: 3.5 hours
FOREST OF NISENE MARKS
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA
PHOTO ALBUM HERE
Maple Falls is set deep within Forest Of Nisene Marks, where Bridge Creek plunges majestically 40 feet over a rock wall at the end of a lush canyon, far enough out and up a rugged enough trail that a good portion of potential visitors are discouraged!
Killing some time before Deathgrave practice in a San Jose bookstore (okay, not just any bookstore, but the FANTASTIC Recycle Books) I happened upon an exhaustive compendium called California Waterfalls (Ann Marie Brown, Foghorn Outdoors, second edition May 2000) which I bought up right away and began studying. It turned out that Amber and I would both have a free day to hike the next day, so I consulted the book, and chose Maple Falls as the destination. This was skillfully picked so that it could also be done in conjunction with a brunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Gayle's Bakery in Capitola. While at Gayle's, waiting for our number to be called, and perusing the displays of quiche, polenta, and myriad other delights, I ran into my boss from my first job, Melissa, and her husband Tom, from back in Jackson, California, who are friends of my parents and I had not seen in years. It was a really strange coincidence! But I digress.
We remained secluded in the blind canyon for about a half an hour, and began to return the way we came. We had only seen two hikers coming down from the falls on our way up, and ran into four more as we were leaving. They looked like they were about to turn back, so we informed them that they were only at the first (mini) waterfall, and to keep going! I took us on a small detour on the return, a section of Loma Prieta Grade that runs to the west of, but basically parallel to Bridge Creek Trail. Just so we could see something different. It was nice because we got up on the hillside a little bit, out of the dark canyon, and got some sunshine. It was actually SUCH a beautiful day out, for February, that I almost regretted spending it in a shady, dank forest. ALMOST. We did not see another soul on Loma Prieta Grade as we meandered south along the folded, steep earth, and soon reunited with the intersection of Bridge Creek Trail, continuing south, back to the car. It was an excellent dayhike, one of my favorite of the local redwood excursions that I have done so far, owing mainly to the payoff of the elusive and secret Maple Falls!