Fall Creek Hiking

The park  has 2,390 acres–nearly the entire watershed of Fall Creek–and about 20 miles of hiking trails. Most of these trails follow old wagon and  logging roads that once led to busy industrial sites. The park has 12 different trails that range from .2 mile to 4.8 miles. For a map of the trails, please email us or call the Nature Store at 831-335-0782.

The Trails of Fall Creek

Fall Creek Trail (3.6 miles)
This pleasant, easy trail follows shaded, bubbling Fall Creek along the central canyon of the park. Occasionally, sunny areas provide for diverse riparian vegetation. A seasonal ladybug colony and the Barrel Mill area are passed on the way to Trail’s End. A short, easy loop can be made past the lime kilns using Cape Horn and South Fork Trails. Longer, more strenuous hikes can be taken by climbing out of the canyon to either ridge on the Big Ben Trail and returning on Lost Empire Trail to the west or on the Truck and Ridge Trails to the east. S-Cape Trail provides a quicker access to the Ridge Trail.

Bennett Creek Trail (0.2 mile)
Connects the parking lot with Fall Creek Trail

South Fork Trail (0.4 mile)
Departs Fall Creek at the bridge to follow South Fall Creek upstream to the lime kilns and passes through the quarry tailings and cooperage. English ivy overflows the creek banks, and a beautiful stand of big-leaf maples are found at the base of Blue Cliff. Joins Kiln Trail and Cape Horn Trail.

Kiln Trail (0.5 mile)
Connects Felton-Empire Road with the lime kilns on a shorter, but steeper, route.

Cape Horn Trail (0.7 mile)
An old wagon road named by teamsters because its sharp bend around the steep ridgeline reminded them of “sailing ’round the horn” on their journey to California. Used to bring fuel and later, barrels, to the kilns. It goes from Fall Creek to the lime kilns.

Lost Empire Trail (4.8 miles)
This steep trail climbs the west ridge, from Cape Horn Trail to Empire Grade, past Lost Camp and the virgin redwood, Big Ben Tree. Loop back down on the Big Ben Trail or continue uphill following the ridge of Ben Lomond Mountain to the summit area of the park. This trail follows old oxen roads used for logging the area for fuel. Fir, oak, and madrone trees dominate. Mountain lion tracks have been observed here.

Sunlit Trail (0.3 mile) and Pine Flat Trail (0.2 mile)
Connects Sunlit Lane and Pine Flat Road areas of Empire Grade to the Lost Empire Trail. Trailheads are accessible by bus, so take a bus up Empire Grade and hike down the mountain to Felton!

Big Ben Trail (1.9 miles)
This trail, recently built by volunteers from the Santa Cruz Mountains Horseman’s Association, and its anchor point, the Big Ben Tree, get their names from Ben Lomond Mountain. The west and east ridges of the upper park are connected by this steep, switch-backed route which joins Fall Creek Trail for 0.1 mile. Loop in either direction for a very strenuous 8.6 mile hike.

Truck Trail (2.5 miles)
A fine road through private and park property. Maintained by the California Department of Forestry.

Ridge Trail (1.6 miles)
Follows the east ridge from Fall Creek up through a steep, sunny area with many large Douglas Fir and tan oak trees. Avoid the steep climb by heading down S-Cape Trail and returning on the cool, shaded Fall Creek Trail or continue uphill 0.4 mile to Truck Trail.

S-Cape Trail (0.3 mile)
Connects the Ridge and Fall Creek Trails for a diverse and enjoyable 3.0-mile hike.

High School Trail (1.1 miles)
A moist, shaded route through the alluvial flats, with many second-growth redwoods and seasonal odors on Cabbage Creek. Connects the San Lorenzo Valley High School property with Fall Creek.

Preserve Fall Creek
Fall Creek is a place of peace and quiet for those who visit and a place of refuge for the animals and plants that live there. Please help protect and preserve the park’s rich history, plants, animals, and valuable watershed.

  • The park is open daily from dawn to dusk
  • Bicycles are not allowed in the park
  • Horses are permitted only on designated trails (see map)
  • Dogs are not allowed in the park, even on leash, to protect the park’s wildlife and habitat
  • Firearms are not allowed in the park
  • Camping is not allowed in the park
  • Fires are not allowed in the park
  • Smoking is absolutely prohibited in any area of the park
  • All plants, animals, and historical artifacts are protected–do not remove them

You are responsible for knowing and obeying the above rules and for respecting our park neighbors and park property. Know where roads cross private lands, and respect the property owners who have graciously given permission of passage. The right to pass is revocable at any time.