9500 Pescadero Creek Road, Loma Mar 94021 - (650)879-0238
This vast parkland of 8,020 acres is comprised of San McDonald, Memorial, and Heritage Grove parks. The park contains a significant amount of forest and watershed related resources. Pescadero Creek, which flows all year round, is a major Steelhead spawning stream. The stream is an important steelhead trout habitat and may be restored for coho salmon.
By 1971 the property had expanded to 5,700 acres, mostly logged over timberland purchased from the Santa Cruz Lumber Company which had just closed its mill. The Army Corps of Engineers was to construct a dam on Pescadero Creek creating a lake containing 60,000-acre feet of water, and flooding everything below 400 feet elevation from Shaw Flat south for four miles to Portola Redwoods State Park. It was a massive plan that never happened due to opposition of conservationists and anti development factions who saw the lake as a threat to the rural Coast side. The availability of cheap irrigation and domestic water would, in the view of many, spur agricultural and residential development. The dam and lake plan was canceled after a series of public hearings.
The County continued on with its plan for developing Pescadero Creek Park as a major new recreational asset with campgrounds, visitor center, picnic grounds, trails and interpretive programs. This plan, too, was cancelled as it called for selective harvesting of timber as a means of restoring the forest and providing income for the County General Fund. Many environmental
groups were opposed to the logging plan as the money went into the General Fund with no guarantee that the County focus would be more concerned with forest restoration than maximizing income. Other objections were raised by locals who did not want to attract additional visitors to the area for fear of traffic and population issues. Then the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 struck the final blow for many plans to develop Pescadero Creek Park.
Since then the park has remained in its initial state with the development and maintenance if multi-use trails and two primitive trail camps. The Boy Scout facility Camp Pomponio, was closed in the late 1960's - early 1970's when the area was logged by Santa Cruz Lumber Company. The boy Scouts had developed many of the trails, some existing logging roads that are still in use today. Camp Pomponio was part of the County's acquisition and became the Men's Correctional Facility operated by the Sheriff's Office.
Hiking trails provide scenic excursions of varied difficulty levels, that can last anything from an hour to all day.
All trails but Heritage Grove Trail are open to horseback riding. Check with park rangers for trail conditions prior to riding. Some trails are closed during the Winter Season. No rental horses are available.
Bicycles are allowed only on designated service roads. Please check with park rangers.
Walk-in primitive camping is permitted at the Shaw Flat and Tarwater trail camps. (First come, first serve at Memorial ranger station). Sites are without water and have pit toilets.
Observe all trail signs and posted speed limits. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed off designated paved areas. Please respect your fellow trail users and follow the trail etiquette guidelines for safe and courteous trail use.
Trail Camps: Hike-in camps are provided for the backpacker, first come-first serve at the Memorial Park Ranger Station, at Shaw Flat and Tarwater Trail Camps. No water is available, backpack stoves are permitted, and no ground fires are allowed.
Trail Heads: Hikers, joggers, and equestrians have access to the extensive trail network (approximately 26 miles) at the Memorial Visitor Center, Sam McDonald Ranger Station, the Portola Visitor Center, Redwood's State Park, and at the Old Haul Road and Tarwater Trailheads.
Drop-in overnight camping is available in two areas, Shaw Flat (8 sites) and Tarwater Flat (6 sites), and will be filled on a first-come-first-serve basis. Four campers and one vehicle are permitted in each site. The fee is $10 per night.
Trail Camps: Camping is available at the Shaw Flat and Tarwater trail camps (First come, first serve at Memorial ranger station)
Hiking Trails: During a one-hour hike you can explore either Mt. Ellen, Huckleberry, Homestead, Creek, Big Tree, or Heritage Grove trails. Half day or more, you can hike Ridge Loop, Tarwater Loop, or Towne Trail. Butano Ridge Loop or the Pomponio Trail Provide all-day experiences for the avid hiker or jogger.
Bicycle Trails: Bicycles are allowed only on designated service road. Please check with park rangers.
Horseback Riding: All trails but Heritage Grove Trail are open to horses. Check with park rangers for trail conditions prior to riding. Some trails are closed during the Winter Season. No rental horses are available.
Fishing and Hunting: These activities are not permitted per California State Fish and Game Regulations.
Days and Hours of Operation
Pescadero Creek Park is open every day of the year including all holidays. It opens daily at 8:00 A.M. The closing time varies by time of year. The closing times are:
December - February 5:00 P.M.
March 6:00 P.M. (before Daylight Savings Time starts)
March 7:00 P.M. (after Daylight Savings Time starts)
April - August 8:00 P.M.
September 8:00 P.M. (through Labor Day)
September 7:00 P.M. (beginning the day after Labor Day)
October 7:00 P.M. (first week[s] of October)
October 6:00 P.M. (last three weeks of October)
November 6:00 P.M. (before Daylight Saving Time ends)
November 5:00 P.M. (after Daylight Saving Time ends)
The park contains a significant amount of forest and watershed related resources. In additional to coast redwoods and douglas fir, there is a fairly large grove of endangered Santa Cruz cypress (cupressus abramsinana) along Butano Ridge. Other major tree species include california wax myrtle, tan oak (once commercially harvested for tan bark), madrone, california bay laurel, big leaf maple, cayon live oak, coast live oak, and knobcone pine.
Pescadero Creek and Alpine Creek both contain steelhead trout (salmo gairdneri). Pescadero Creek also has a small and variable run of silver salmon (Oncorhynchus Kitsutch). The steelhead (a sea run rainbow trout) is far the most significant of these species. Both are listed as endangered by the state and federal agencies.
The park also provides nesting for the endangered Mabled murrelet.
Other significant species of wildlife include: black-tailed deer, raccoon, western gray squirrel, coyote, mountain lion, feral pigs are becoming a significant pest, causing erosion damage.
Pescadero Creek Park sits atop a deposit of natural gas and oil. Natural gas occasionally bubbles up through seams near Hoffman Creek producing a strong gas odor. Crude oil pools up in the channel of Tarwater Creek, and seeps into Jones Gulch Creek staining the rocks. Oil exploration was attempted in the 1970's but failed to hit the pool. Natural gas under San Mateo County has been estimated at 10 billion cubic feet but no exploration wells have been attempted in the park.
Prepare for a safe and enjoyable visit to Pescadero Creek Park and other San Mateo County Parks by being aware of your natural environment.
Directions to the Park
The entrance to Pescadero Creek is through Memorial Park.
From 101 or 280: Take Highway #84 west of La Honda. Turn left 1/2 mile past village center in La Honda on Pescadero Road. The Park entrance in on Pescadero Road about 6 miles from turn off.
From Highway #1: Take coast highway to Pescadero Road about 11 miles to the park entrance.
Pescadeo Creek Park has no facilities that can be reserved. Trail camps such as the Shaw Flat and Tarwater are on a first come, first serve basis. If you have any questions or would like to check for camp availability, please contact the ranger station at Memorial Park.
If you are an individual or an organization interested in the Volunteer Program, please contact Pescadero Creek Park or the San Mateo County Parks Volunteer Program Coordinator.
To preserve the natural environment of Pescadero Creek Park, all plants, animals and natural features are protected.
Picking or removing wildflowers or other natural material is prohibited.
Cutting and gathering of wood is prohibited.
Dogs and other pets are not allowed.
Picnicking is permitted only in designated areas.
Horses are permitted only on designated trails.
Motor vehicles and bicycles are permitted only on paved roadways and in established parking areas.
Firearms and other weapons are prohibited.
Loud radios and the playing of amplified musical instruments are not permitted.
Park opens at 8:00 A.M. and closes at the preset time prior to sunset.
Use only designated trails at all times.
Beer and wine only are allowed in certain areas, no hard liquor.
Smoking is prohibited.
Feeding of wildlife is prohibited.
Leaving designated trails is prohibited.
Fishing and hunting are not permitted per California State Fish and Game Regulations.