Hiking Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

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Last weekend my parents came down to visit me at school to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It also happened to be the day UC Santa Cruz was having their organic plant sale and so of course my mom wanted to stop by and “take a look.” Which means we were there for two hours. Some people spend hours clothes shopping, some in bookstore…for my mom it’s nurseries and plant sales. It’s awesome that all of the money goes back to supporting my campus’s organic farm.

By the time she finished making her purchases my dad and I were starving for breakfast so we headed straight to the Windmill Cafe. It’s a really cute tiny cafe that serves vegan options like V&GF waffles and tofu scrambles. They also have a large selection of vegan and GF baked goods.

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While we finished up breakfast we tried to decide what we wanted to do during the day and ended up settling on a hike! Hiking is pretty much my favorite thing to do, probably because it feels like an adventure. We headed to Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and after driving through some bumpy dirt roads we finally arrived at the parking lot.

We poured over the trail maps and decided on trying to hike to the falls (about a 6 mile hike).

It was absolutely beautiful on the trails!

The best part of hiking is feeling completely separate from the busy world. No wi-fi. No cars or busy roads. Just peace and quiet. It was also nice that it was a hikers only trail so we didn’t have to worry about any bikers whizzing past.

The hike wasn’t just easy-peasy. There were quite a bit of hills and we accidentally went a bit off path so we ended up climbing across some logs back to the trail. All part of the fun though! We also spotted some banana slugs (my mascot)!

Their actually kind of cute! Haha. I hardly ever see them on campus even though they’re our mascot so it was cool to spot at least 5 on our adventure. We didn’t actually reach the falls because there were some logs across the path that couldn’t be climbed over and the trail seemed to collapse into the stream after that so we headed back.

We stopped for a snack break on the way back and I enjoyed a pineapple ginger V&GF muffin we had picked up that morning from Windmill Cafe.

On the way back we were starting to feel our tired feet and I checked the Health App on my phone to see how far we had walked. 5 miles already! Apparently the length on the map was a little of because we ended up hitting 7 miles by the time we got back to the parking lot and had climbed 30 flights of “stairs” (hills) according to the app.

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The hike was just what we all needed. Some family time without phones and distractions, plus it’s great exercise. I really enjoy hiking as a form of exercising because it feels like fun, not work.

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I can’t wait to go back! I could spend every day hiking and be happy.

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