• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    7.1 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1500 Feet


Explore a variety of ecosystems on this loop hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where hikers walk under towering redwoods, pass by trickling streams, and stroll through green meadows.

The Brook Trail Loop is a beautiful hike, starting off in Sam McDonald County Park and later entering into Pescadero Creek County Park. This adventure can be done in any season, with the trails almost entirely shaded for even the hottest summer days.

Starting off from the Heritage Grove trailhead, take the Heritage Grove Trail across the bridge over Alpine Creek, which is running for much of the year. At the first trail intersection, stay left to continue on the Heritage Grove Trail. The path will slowly wind its way up to the top of the nearby ridge line, passing under gigantic redwoods and a lush, fern-covered understory. After about 0.9 miles, you will have reached the top, and the trail places hikers in the middle of a beautiful meadow that is covered with bright green grass during the winter and spring. Continue straight and cross the fire road. Just a short ways afterwards, turn right onto the East Brook Trail, which meanders along the edge of the meadow. After half a mile, this will turn into the West Brook Trail and will start to descend down into a canyon. Switchbacks will lead hikers through forests of Douglas firs, oaks, and at lower elevations, redwoods. Eventually, the trail will come to follow the course of Towne Creek, which runs strong during the winter and spring. At the next trail intersection, veer left onto the Jones Gulch Trail that passes under more redwood trees. Follow this for 0.4 miles, and at the trail intersection with the Towne Fire Road, turn left and begin your return journey uphill. The next 1.1 miles will be steep at times, climbing out of the densely-forested canyon. At trail marker 36 (number found on the trail sign), turn left onto the single track East Brook Trail. Over the course of the next mile, gaps in the trees will appear that will give hikers views of the surrounding hillsides and sometimes views of the ocean. Finally, at trail marker 29, turn right and cross the Towne Fire Road once again to return to the Heritage Grove Trail. Take this to return to your start and your parked car. 

Pack List

Though not particularly strenuous, it is always good to be prepared when hiking. Recommended items to bring:

  • Water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • Sunscreen/hat
  • Layers (it can get cold in the shaded areas)
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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

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Brennan McDonald

For all of my life, I have been passionate about nature and the outdoors. Whenever possible, I enjoy to hike and bike through local California parks to explore the natural environment.

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