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Santa Cruz County

Forest of Nisene Marks by Davidlohr Bueso, Flickr Creative Commons

Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

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The Forest of Nisene Marks, only 5 miles northeast of Santa Cruz, is wild and expansive. The property was clearcut in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. But it’s recovering nicely-and offers hikers and mountain bikers a chance to explore 30 miles of trails that rise from near sea level to 2,600 feet.

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Big Basin

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

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Nestled in the deep folds of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin is the oldest state park in California. It includes more than 18,000 acres of redwood forest, including the largest ancient stand south of San Francisco. About 10 percent of the park won protection with the help of Save the Redwoods League.

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Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park offers recreation among a diverse landscape of beautiful forests, meadows and lush stream canyons. Photo by Jim Bahn, Flickr Creative Commons.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

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Just 5 miles from Santa Cruz, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park offers sunlit meadows, lush stream canyons, pine and oak forests and quiet walks through ancient redwoods. Some 30 miles of hiking trails wind through four different plant communities. The classic stroll is the 0.8-mile Redwood Grove Loop, which winds through coast redwoods up to 285 feet tall and 1,800 years old.

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