Peters Creek Loop in Portola Redwoods State Park is one of my favourite destinations in the bay area, it’s a three-pronged loop around the intersection of Peters Creek and Bear Creek with lush coastal redwood forest floor of ferns and clover and towering trees. The route also follows along Slate Creek and the site of Page Mill (there’s nothing there now but a sign) for which Page Mill Road owes its name; William Page lumbered redwood in the 1850s, carting it over to the bay via Embarcadero.
Because Peters Creek is many miles into the park it’s not very busy although on the weekend you’re very likely to see groups of hikers walking over. On memorial day the backpackers camp at Slate Creek was full.
The trailhead for Long Ridge Open Space Preserve is just parallel parking along both sides of the road on Skyline Boulevard.
- The route starts following Hickory Oaks Trail from the trailhead. This trail is well used by mountain bikers on the weekends. The trail starts off partially shaded but quickly leaves shade behind and follows the ridge around exposed grassy hills. In summer it can be blisteringly hot, the hike starts at the top of a ridge so the first few miles are mostly downhill but this means the final few miles are back up, make sure you have enough water for this last bit, particularly in the summer.
- Hickory Oaks trail connects to Ward Road Trail which descends down, out of Long Ridge and turns into Slate Creek Trail as it enters Portola Redwoods State Park. As it descends it turns into single track and meanders down through the forest eventually turning once it reaches Slate Creek.
- Slate Creek is also redwood lined although not quite as pretty as Peters Creek. Shortly before the intersection with Bear Creek Trail is a plaque showing the site of Page Mill. The Slate Creek backpackers camp is also located at the intersection.
- Bear Creek Trail leads up and over a ridge and descends down into Peters Creek. Along the upwards trail there’s the abandoned wreckage of an old car off to the side.
- Bear Creek Trail by first crossing over Bear Creek and then joining up to Peters Creek loop which crosses over Peters Creek twice. The Bear Creek crossing has a bridge but neither crossing of Peters Creek does, but the creek is usually low enough to hop over using stones. The creek is beautiful and a great stopping point for lunch.
- After following Peters Creek loop retrace your steps back up to Long Ridge, there’s a lot more climbing on the way back, and the end in particular is exposed.
Maps and References
The Long Ridge Open Space Preserve map shows the first section of the hike to Slate Creek Trail and the Portola Redwoods State Park brochure shows the second section from Slate Creek Trail to Peters Creek loop. Redwood Hikes Press prints a map of Skyline Ridge which shows the complete trail, and is also available digitally using PDFMaps.