A wilderness-like experience close to urban centers

Sanborn County Park by Glenn Nelson FCC
Photo by Glenn Nelson, Flickr Creative Commons

Park Information

HIGHLIGHTS: Sanborn County Park is 3,688 acres of beautiful, lush redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The park offers a wide range of recreational options, including hiking, picnicking and RV and tent camping. Although it’s only a one-hour drive from San Francisco and 30 minutes from San Jose, it feels like wilderness.

ACTIVITIES: Hiking, jogging, horseback riding, mountain biking, picnicking, fishing, interpretive programs and RV and tent camping. For large gatherings including weddings, three group areas available by reservation at (408) 355-2201.


CAMPGROUNDS: An RV campground, open-year round, offers showers, electric and water hook-ups and a dump station. Vehicle length limit is 30 feet. Reservations can be made for RV camping by calling (408) 355-2201. Tent group camping is available by reservation at the walk-in campground. Make a reservation.

TRAILS: More than 15 miles of hiking trails, some connecting to neighboring Castle Rock State Park. See the park trail map. The 1-mile Nature Trail showcases the park’s plants and animals with interpretive markers. The Lake Ranch Trail offers a shaded, easy hike between Lake Ranch and Black Road. The John Nicholas Trail draws great reviews from mountain bikers because it’s scenic, shady, well-maintained and offers fun corners, berms and small jumps. Horses and bicycles are not allowed on the Whole Access Trail or paved trails in the day-use area. Bicycles are allowed on park roads and designated trails only. No riding or bicycling in the walk-in campground.

MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: Watch your step, especially during the spring rains, because salamanders and yellow banana slugs are on the move.

HIDDEN GEM: On the John Nicholas Trail, you’ll find a 40-foot tall rock with tafoni, which are small cave-like features.

FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: The Whole Access Trail adjacent to the Dyer House takes visitors to the edge of the Peterson Grove and the Costanoan Group Area.  Other accessible features include bathrooms; RV campsite #2; paths from parking spaces to the bathrooms and day-use areas; picnic tables in most of the day-use areas; and designated spaces in all parking lots except for the small kiosk parking lot.

DOGS: Dogs are permitted on leash in the park. Pets may not be left unattended or in your vehicle and must be confined at night.

ENTRANCE FEE: $6 per vehicle for day use.

SPECIAL EVENTS: During the summer months, the park is home to the only outdoor Shakespearean company in Silicon Valley. For more information about performances, visit Silicon Valley Shakespeare’s website.

MORE INFORMATION Visit the park’s website or call (408) 867-9959.

Trip Ideas from Our Staff and Friends

EAT: Carla von Merz, Executive Assistant, recommends the salads at Big Basin Burger Bar (external link) in downtown Saratoga. You can also grab lunch or dinner at Mio Vicono (external link) in Saratoga.

STOP: Carla suggests stopping at Sue’s Gallery Cafe (external link) for a cup of coffee.

Regan Ranoa, Outreach Manager, recommends following up your trip to the park with a concert under the stars at Villa Montalvo (external link).

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Park Details

Acres Protected by the League: none

Getting There: Driving Directions

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