Backpack Sam McDonald Park

Rate this Adventure San Francisco Sam McDonald County Park Parking Area

Added by Ashley Chang

Escape into Sam McDonald Park's redwood forest and stay in one of the two campgrounds. The park is located less than an hour from San Francisco.

The Pescadero Creek Park Complex is a great place to escape for a day or overnight hike in the heart of the Bay Area. You will need to get a permit to stay overnight - these can be attained on a first-come, first-serve basis from the ranger station. Most of the campsites here are also available first-come, first-serve. A permit is required to park a car overnight. You can also pick up a trail map from the ranger station.

After parking, cross the street and start to climb up the hill, taking the wide path on the right. The hill lasts half a mile. Take a moment at the top to admire the view before heading past the horse camp and down Brook Trail Loop on your right. Stay on the loop for 1.7 miles before taking a left (AWAY from Jones Gulch trail) and continuing 0.6 miles further to reach Shaw Flat Trail Camp. Stay the night in one of several campsites here. At Shaw Flat, you are about two miles from Tarwater Trail Camp on Pomponio Trail.

Consider staying at Tarwater or Shaw and exploring the many trails surrounding the area. To leave from Tarwater, backtrack 0.2 miles to Tarwater Trail Loop and take this back to the Towne Fire Road, which will lead up the hill and out to the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping pad
  • Flashlight
  • Sleeping bag
  • Toiletries
  • Camp stove
  • Backpack
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Hiking

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



6 Miles


Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area

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Added by Ashley Chang

I'm live in San Francisco and spend my weekends in the mountains. I love getting outdoors and exploring new places. Feel free to ask me about any of my adventures! I'd love to join you on yours sometime.

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