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Level: Advanced
Length: 20 mi (32.2 km)
Surface: Fire Road
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +1,392/ -1,353 ft
Total: 479 riders

Mountain Biking Forest Of Nisene Marks and Soquel Demonstration Forest

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#2 of 1,003 mountain bike trails in California
#18 in the world

Located along the east branch of Soquel Creek and including portions of Amaya Creek and Fern Gulch Creek, the Forest contains redwood, mixed hardwoods, and riparian ecosystems.

Soquel is geologically active, with the San Andreas and Zayante Faults passing through the property.

There are several natural springs and small marshes found in closed depressions, known as sag ponds.

Visitors enjoy hiking, bicycling, picnicking and horseback riding.
There are no restrooms and no developed water sources in the forest so please bring your own drinking water.
Hours for use are dawn to dusk; day use only.
Horses and mountain bikes need to stay on trails or roads.
Pets are welcome but must be on a leash.
No smoking or fires of any kind are allowed in the forest.
No firearms or motorized vehicles are allowed in the forest.
There are two main access methods on your bike:
You can either climb up Highland Way (the long route), or start across the bridge through the

If you climb up Highland Way, continue on the road for approx 2 miles until the first gravel fireoad off to the right. Continue the climb into the Forest of Nisene Marks. At the sign, take the fireroad
down to the left and do a little more climbing until you see a singletrack trail to the right.
You can take the singletrack up through the woods (relatively easy climbing, with one short steep uphill) but the fireroad will join up at the end of the singletrack run. Go left on the fireroad for yet more climbing. Take another left onto Aptos Creek Rd and cross over the gate for yes, still more climbing. You will eventually get to a clearing where you can take a right onto the Ridge trail and take a glimpse at the trail map.

Off of the ridge trail, you have a few options for getting back downhill: Sawpit, Tractor, Braille, Sulphur Springs trails.

Tractor trail is a fun long singletrack downhill, well worth the climb. A little bumpy at first,
but smooths out so you can go top speed. When you spit out on the fireroad, head right for a gradual climb back out towards the bridge where you parked. Though there is a lot of climbing in the Demo Forest, it is mostly on fireroad and in the shade. You will be glad you did it because the downhill really pays off!

First added by alvin.santoy on Aug 17, 2003. Last updated May 11, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From San Jose, take Hwy 17 towards Santa Cruz. Exit on Summit Road and go east ~5 miles then turn right onto Highland Way. Drive ~4 miles and look parking along side of the road near a bridge with a small sign for "Soquel Demonstration Forest."
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Forest Of Nisene Marks and Soquel Demonstration Forest Trail map

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Local Info

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BZ202 (on Jul 31, 2021)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Jul 8, 2021)
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Forest Of Nisene Marks and Soquel Demonstration Forest videos

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Ridge Trail
Soquel Demonstration Forest - Braille Trail
6-28-09 Soquel Demo Forest
Santa Cruz - a business trip
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Rider questions

Q: I live in Oakland and have ridden a lot in Marin and Sonoma Counties. I keep eyeing Nisene and would like to ride the Flow Trail. From all that I have read, its not clear what's best.... a) park at the top, ride down and climb out; b) park at the bottom, do the climb and ride down; or c) catch a shuttle to the top and ride down...? What are the recommendations from the locals?
A: best thing to do is get off at summit road exit, take that to a parking lot, ride to the top, take flow to the bottom, then ride out. It is like 10-12 miles? round trip

Q: I plan to come out sometime in the spring. My current full suspension bike is a Specialized Epic with only 100mm of travel. Will that be ok or should I rent a bike with more travel?
A: That will be fine, before I got my stumpjumper, I rode these trails w/ a hard tail w/ 80mm of travel.