Butano State Park
Sun-bleached coastline and shady redwood groves
HIGHLIGHTS: South of San Francisco, halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, Butano State Park surprises almost every first-time visitor. From the sun-bleached, windswept coastline along Highway 1, you enter a shady redwood glade. Find yourself awed by the mossy Douglas-firs, bigleaf maples, sword ferns, false Solomon's seal, trillium and sorrel. The redwoods are mostly second growth, but careful explorers can find some ancient ones, too. In 1992, Save the Redwoods League helped add 1,100 acres to Butano, which now totals 3,500 acres.
ACTIVITIES: Hiking, picnicking, backpacking, plant studying, and bird watching. Guided nature walks and weekend campfire programs in the summer. At Ano Nuevo lookout, you can get a glimpse of an adjacent elephant seal reserve.
VISITOR CENTER: At the park entrance. Coming from the south, turn off Highway 1 at Gazos Creek Road. Following the park signs, drive about 3 miles northeast. Coming from the north, turn off Highway 1 at Pescadero Road, and turn right on Cloverdale road, for a total distance of 4.5 miles.
CAMPGROUNDS: Ben Ries Campground is about a mile from the entrance, at the end of the park's paved road. It has 39 sites-some drive-in and a few requiring a 20- to 50-yard walk. To make a reservation, visit www.reserveamerica.com or call (800) 444-7275. Backcountry sites are also available.
TRAILS: For a quick look at the park's most verdant areas, try the 1.5-mile Little Butano Creek Trail, which starts just below the campground.
MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: From February to April, you can find calypso orchids in bloom. In the fall, the bigleaf maple's golden leaves light up low-lying areas. In winter, look for wandering newts and banana slugs, and the distinctive red cap and long stalk of the redwood rooter mushroom.
HIDDEN GEM: At Jackson Flat and Goat Hill, the forest opens up into mountainside marshes, where Pacific tree frogs and California newts swim among the cattails and other water-loving plants.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit Butano State Park or call the visitor center at (650) 879-2040.
EAT: Duarte's Tavern is a favorite among our staff. Both Megan Ferreira, Major Gifts Officer, and Sharon Rabichow, Planned Giving Officer, recommend ordering "a soup of 1/2 green chili and 1/2 artichoke (mixed together!) and a piece of Olallieberry Pie." Megan's third favorite item on the menu is the crab sandwich.
STOP: Sharon suggests stopping at Harley Farms (Pescadero) for some goat cheese tasting. If the season is right you can pick olalliberries from the various farms on the route.
Megan also likes to stop at Arcancelli Grocery (aka Norms Market) to buy some fresh (still warm!) garlic and herb bread or Phipps Ranch to pick berries (depending on the season) and to buy dried beans, legumes, jams, herbs, spices, etc.
Shawn Marchand, Land Project Manager, recommends a stop at Pescadero State Beach.
Both Shawn and Megan say antiquing at the shops along Stage Road is a fun and popular thing to do in Pescadero.
FAVORITE HIKE: Sharon recommends the River Trail and Shawn prefers the Six Bridges Trail.
FAVORITE PARK ATTRACTION: Jennifer Benito, Director of Outreach, says the Calypso orchid, which blooms from February to April, is a must see.
Sharon recommends having a picnic by the creek.
Tell us your favorite stops, hikes, places to eat, and more when visiting this park!
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