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Pescadero Creek County Park Complex

Along with adjoining Memorial and Sam McDonald, part of a complex with 74 miles of linked  trails and dirt roads

Photo by Franco Folini, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Franco Folini, Flickr Creative Commons

Park Information

HIGHLIGHTS: Spanning 8,020 acres, this vast tract of San Mateo County-managed parkland protects precious woodland and watershed resources while providing diverse recreational opportunities. Endangered steelhead trout and coho salmon spawn in the creeks of the three conjoined parks that form this complex, while imperiled marbled murrelets nest in the property’s lofty redwoods. The complex supports a large network of trails traversing a variety of wildland ecosystems, from redwood groves to mixed coniferous and mixed hardwood forests. The park also protects a stand of rare Santa Cruz cypress.

Wildlife is abundant, and includes mountain lions, bobcats, and black-tailed deer. Feral hogs are increasing in the park, threatening native plants.

ACTIVITIES: This sprawling park offers some of the best hiking and horseback riding in the Bay Area. Trails range from 1 to 10 miles, and all may be used by both hikers and equestrians. Picnic sites are abundant, and campsites are available in Memorial Park.


CAMPGROUNDS: Hike-in camps are available to backpackers on a first come, first served basis at Shaw Flat and Tarwater Trail Camps. A permit is required, which has a fee of $10 per night, and can be obtained at the Memorial Park Ranger Station. The trail camps have vault toilets but no available water. Backpack stoves and lanterns with on/off switches are permitted. No campfires or barbeques are allowed during High Fire Season, which typically runs from May to November, depending on weather conditions. Call the park for up-to-date information on fire conditions at (650) 879-0238.

There are two Family Camping Areas in Memorial Park: the Azalea Flat, and the Sequoia Flat with a total of 158 camp sites. A maximum of eight people can be accommodated per site in these areas. To reserve this or other facilities at Memorial Park visit the online reservation system or call the reservations desk at (650) 363-4021.

TRAILS: With 74 miles of trails, the Pescadero Creek parklands have something for everyone. The Brook Trail provides panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, old-growth redwoods and rolling grasslands. Ancient redwoods await visitors on the Canyon Trail and Jones Gulch Trail.

MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: The Tarwater Loop Trail is a 4.7-mile loop that leads to one of the largest redwoods in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz region. The trail also skirts an old shingle mill and dairy farm. Smell oil or gas? That’s not fumes from a refinery. Crude oil deposits seep naturally from some parts of Tarwater Creek.

Also worth exploring: A new route, the Park Gulch Trail, takes visitors through a particularly beautiful redwood forest.

HIDDEN GEM: During the winter, hikers and equestrians on the Portola Trail will be treated to the sight of a small waterfall on Fall Creek.


DOGS: Not allowed in the park.

ENTRANCE FEE: $6 per vehicle.

SPECIAL EVENTS: Special events and programs are held throughout the year at San Mateo County Parks, including the Pescadero Creek Park complex. Visit the park’s events webpage for more information.

INFORMATION: Visit the park’s webpage or call 650-879-0238.

Trip Ideas from Our Staff and Friends

EAT: Duarte’s Tavern (external link) is a favorite among our staff. Both Megan Ferreira Derhammer, former staffer, and Sharon Rabichow, Director of Gift Planning, recommend ordering “a soup of half green chili and half artichoke (mixed together!) and a piece of olallieberry pie.” Megan’s third favorite item on the menu is the crab sandwich.

Carla von Merz, Executive Assistant, suggests stopping at Alice’s Restaurant (external link) in Woodside or picking up tacos and pan de flor at the gas station in Pescadero. She also recommends trying the pizza at the Pescadero Country Store (external link).

STOP: Sharon suggests stopping at Harley Farms (external link) (Pescadero) for 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 Arcangeli Grocery for fantastic breads and sandwiches to go. There’s also a picnic area in back. She also likes to go to Phipps Ranch (external link) to pick berries (depending on the season) and to buy dried beans, legumes, jams, herbs, spices, etc.

Shawn Marchand, former staffer, recommends a stop at Pescadero State Beach (external link).

Both Shawn and Megan say antiquing at the shops along Stage Road is a fun and popular thing to do in Pescadero.

Tell us your favorite stops, hikes, places to eat, and more when visiting this park!

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