This secluded and dense redwood forest tucked away in the Santa Cruz mountains is a perfect place to avoid the crowds and escape from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. The vast trail network provides opportunities for biking, hiking and backpacking.

Pescadero Creek County Park and the connected Sam McDonald and Memorial Park are located deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains holding a vast network of secluded trails. From biking to backpacking, this area is a perfect place for a day or weekend adventure. This area also has the added bonus having relatively few visitors compared to other outdoor hot spots in the Bay Area.

This area can be accessed from Skyline Boulevard or from Highway 1. If you are arriving from the coast, head east out of the town of Pescadero on Pescadero Rd.

There are a multitude of trails starting from the Hoffman Flat Trailhead. Highlights include:

Old Haul Rd: This and Town Fire Road are the only trails in the park that bikes are allowed on. This 6.5 mile one way abandoned logging road takes you through beautiful redwood forests with very little elevation change. If you have a bike that can shred road and dirt, you can take Old Haul Rd to Portola Redwoods State Park and make a loop connecting Portola State Park Rd with Alpine Rd and Pescadero Rd.

Pomponio Trail: This trail takes you through some of the most remote locations in the Park. You will absolutely forget about the sprawling metropolis on the other side of the mountain. There are also two primitive trail camps that are accessible from this trail which are on a first come first serve basis out of the Memorial Park Ranger Station.

Butano Ridge Loop: This trail takes you on top of Butano Ridge for spectacular views of the entire area. To make this truly a loop, you will either need to start or finish on Old Haul Rd.

After your adventure, dont forget to stop in the town of Pescadero for fresh Garlic Artichoke Bread at the Arcangeli Grocery Company.

Pack List

  • Trail Map
  • Trail Camp Permit on first come first serve basis
  • Water and snack or lunch
  • Camping Gear
  • Bike and Helmet
  • Photography Gear
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RT Distance 12.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1350 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Redwoods all to yourself

Unlike Big Basin State Park, this area never has crowds. I have been here countless times and often didn't run into another person. Most of the trees are second growth, but there are a few old growths interspersed throughout the forest. Make sure to drive into the town of Pescadero afterwards to get some garlic artichoke bread.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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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