Rare sandstone formations and a colossal redwood

El Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve
Rare tafoni sandstone. Photo by Miguel Vieira, Flickr Creative Commons

Park Information

HIGHLIGHTS: Perched in the upper reaches of the San Gregorio Creek watershed, this 2,817-acre preserve offers excellent hiking, equestrian and bicycling opportunities within a short drive of the cities of the mid-San Francisco Peninsula. Mixed coniferous forests include numerous ancient redwoods. The preserve contains wonderful examples of rare tafoni sandstone formations, while San Gregorio Creek provides critical habitat for imperiled coho salmon and steelhead trout.

ACTIVITIES: Hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are all favored pursuits. Rock climbing is not allowed. Because a prime function of the preserve is protecting area streams from erosion and other threats, all off-trail activity is forbidden.



TRAILS: El Corte de Madera has 36 miles of trails, including the Resolution Trail, a multi-use single track that traverses Corte Madera Canyon. The trail is dedicated to the people who perished when a DC-6 airplane crashed in the canyon in 1953. Visitors are asked to leave all artifacts associated with this historical site undisturbed.

MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: The Tafoni Trail will take visitors to a several tafoni formations, rare sandstone rocks that feature eroded shallow caves and honeycomb patterns. Visitors must keep to the trail and observation deck. Climbing is not allowed on the rocks.

HIDDEN GEM: The Timberview Trail takes visitors to an ancient redwood that is massive even by the extravagant physical standards for species; it is nearly 50 feet in circumference at the base.


DOGS: Not allowed.


SPECIAL EVENTS: Visit the Midpen district’s activities page.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit the preserve’s webpage or call 650-691-1200.

PLACES TO EAT: Parkside Grille offers California comfort food among the redwoods. Alpine Inn is a popular spot with an outdoor picnic area offering beer and burgers. Alice’s Restaurant, named after the famous Arlo Guthrie song, serves great burgers, barbecue and more.

Trip Ideas from Our Staff and Friends

EAT: In nearby Woodside, Roberts Market (external link) has a good deli. Buck’s (external link) is a sit-down restaurant often called the Cheers of Silicon Valley: venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs come to dine, unwind and close deals.

Kelsey Lamberto, Public Relations Specialist, recommends picking up sandwiches for a picnic at Lorenzo’s (external link) in Belmont (their special garlic sauce is amazing).

STOP: Kelsey suggests grabbing breakfast or lunch at Café Borrone (external link) in Menlo Park (great for rustic, European-style fare like baked goods, salads and sandwiches).

Nearby Redwoods Events

Browse all Events & Activities.

For more hikes, conservation news and redwood facts, sign up for our free enewsletter.

Park Details

Acres Protected by the League: none

Getting There: Driving Directions, Public Transportation

Tags: , ,

Share Your Experiences/Ideas about this Park