Henry James famously said that “summer afternoon” were the two most beautiful words in the English language. All respect to you, Henry, and those two of yours aren’t slouches, but it’s clear: The two best words are “Sunday brunch.” You can take that to the bank. Or the table.
And the way to make that Sunday brunch all the better is by going to a late-morning service. Not church — I’m talking about a different kind of cathedral grounds, a stroll in the presence of the redwoods, which have their own special spirituality. Lucky for you, the generous town of Aptos offers both, and makes the combo simple by their easy proximity.
Let’s talk woodsy church first. The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is located on a trouble-free artery off the heart of Aptos. Most of the redwoods you will see — and they are legion — aren’t the true ancients, since the park saw some serious clear-cutting in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are a few old-timers still, but I guarantee you’ll be pleased to trek through these upstart millennial redwoods, which are substantial and deliver that fairy-dust feeling of redwood stature, solemnity and solace.
There are 30 miles of hiking (and some biking) trails in the park. Some offer blood-pulsing ascents and others not-a-problem strolls. Check in at the ranger station for a trail map, but keep your eye out for unmarked intersections — I’ve hiked here for years, and still get vaguely lost on some trails.
Our pre-brunch constitutional took me and my sweetheart Alice from the Porter Family Picnic Area parking lot on to the Loma Prieta Grade Trail. You can hike up to the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake on this trail, but we opted for something a bit shorter and not as hilly. We switched to the Bridge Creek Trail off Loma Prieta, where you can head up to Maple Falls, which will show off its watery ways when there’s been enough water. We didn’t go all the way up to the falls but had great fun padding through the redwood duff and leafy dirt trails and up a colorful canyon.
A nicety of the near four-mile hike we took — besides the fact that it’s an easy-to-moderate-in-spots trek — was that there are some beautiful contrasts between those clustering, statuesque redwoods and the skinnier, leaf-topped red alder (at least I think that’s what they …
Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle