Butano Loop in Pescadero Creek County Park

A 13.5 mile loop with 2,350 feet of climbing up to Butano ridge, this is a long stroll in the woods through second generation redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Pescadero Creek Park is the largest of triad of adjacent county parks, and is also connected to Portola Redwoods State Park. In the Santa Cruz mountains and filled with second generation redwoods the park also features multiple backpacking campsites. Many tree very large tree stumps are visible from the trails but the newer trees are thick and tower overhead.

The Butano Loop follows Old Haul Road, and old logging road, along the Pescadero Creek valley, and climbs up a single track hiking trail which is gently graded, climbing 1,500 feet to a fire road, following the ridgeline before descending back down to the valley.

I’ve hiked this loop multiple times and you almost feel like you have most of the park to yourself once on the loop, there are no great vistas from the trail, just the bay ridge peeking through here and there and a lot of trees.


  1. The hike starts at the Hoffman Creek trailhead on Wurr Road where there’s free street side parking, crossing over Hoffman Creek and following along Old Haul Road for the first 1.9 miles.
  2. At this point you can either follow Ocean View Trail up anti-clockwise or continue on as I did and to the loop clockwise. Butano Loop Trail is another 2.5 miles along Old Haul Road, which undulates slightly but is mostly flat as it follows the valley formed by Pescadero Creek.
  3. Butano Loop Trail climbs 1,500 feet uphill for 3 miles to join up to Butano Fire Road. The trail meanders and switchbacks through the trees with a fairly constant grade which makes it a pleasant climb. Near to the junction there’s some rock formations which overhang as the softer rock underneath has eroded away.
  4. Butano Fire Road follows along the ridge for 1.9 miles peeking out into the sun in a couple of places. The tree cover on both sides obscures any views.
  5. Ocean View Trail descends back down to Old Haul Road over 2.4 miles, the final half mile follows along Dark Gulch valley, a seasonal tributary into Pescadero Creek, true to its name it’s cooler and darker and a little lusher.
  6. Finally retrace your steps along Old Haul Road for the final 1.9 miles back up to the trailhead.

The hike starts at the Hoffman Creek trailhead on Wurr Road where there’s free street side parking, crossing over Hoffman Creek and following along Old Haul Road for the first 1.9 miles.

Long Ridge Preserve to Peters Creek Loop Portola Redwoods State Park

A 15 mile out and back (with a small loop at the end) hike with 2,900 feet of elevation change from Long Ridge Open Space Preserve down to Portola Redwoods State Park and over a ridge to Peters Creek Loop, the route starts with views over the forested Santa Cruz mountains before descending into lush redwood groves along a year round stream.

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Stinson Beach to Mount Tamalpais

A 16 mile figure of 8 with around 3,500ft of climbing, starting at Stinson Beach in Marin climbing to the East Peak of Mount Tamalpais, offering great views north over Marin and south over San Francisco, the trail travels through redwood forested valleys, grassland hillsides, and manzanita scrubland.

I hiked this route on Memorial Day which meant Stinson Beach, the parking lots, and the trails were quite busy. The highlights of this route for me were the Steep Ravine Trail, which has incredibly lush redwood undergrowth, and the views from the summit of Mount Tamalpais. It was neat to check out the Mountain Theatre on the way up, and I ended the hike by grabbing some food and sitting on the warm sand of Stinson Beach looking at over the Pacific Ocean.

When I started in the morning Stinson Beach was covered with the ocean fog, but I quickly climbed out and the temperature climbed with the elevation as the trail gets more exposed. I was really rather hot by the time I reached the peak. The trail back down was actually probably slightly more exposed, but the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Trail and Matt Davis Trail both go through more exposed and heavily shaded cool sections as they contour around the mountain. The final section of the Matt Davis Trail is also heavily shaded and the temperature dropped as it got nearer to the Pacific Ocean again, which was a very welcome break from the sun.


The trailheads are just off Highway 1 at Stinson Beach, there are three places you can park;

  1. There’s an area for street side parking where Dipsea Trail crosses Panoramic Highway
  2. There’s on street parking where Matt Davis Trail meets Belvedere Avenue
  3. There’s multiple large National Park Service operated lots at Stinson Beach

All of these are free, but Stinson Beach can be popular on nice weekends so the parking fills up quickly. I got to the Stinson Beach lot at 8:45am just as it opened and a large stream of cars poured into the lot on a holiday weekend.


  1. Follow Dipsea Trail for 1.25 miles from the trailhead.
  2. Take a right onto Steep Ravine Trail at its intersection with Dipsea Trail. Steep Ravine Trail follows Webb Creek up a steep sided valley which is lush with green vegetation and redwood trees. There are a couple of footbridges over the creek and one section with short climb up a ladder.
  3. Steep Ravine Trail ends at a State Park parking lot at an intersection, cross Panoramic Highway and follow Old Stage Road a very short distance to Easy Grade Trail.
  4. Follow Easy Grade Trail for 0.6 miles which takes you to the Mountain Theatre, a large open air theatre. There are water fountains at the theatre, up to this point the trail has mostly been shaded but from here the trail starts to go through more scrubland and is more exposed.
  5. Loop around the Mountain Theatre and follow Rock Spring Trail for 1.5 miles to Old Railway Grade and West Point Inn.
  6. Take the lower Old Railway Grade trail, which is a fireroad, for around 1 mile to Fern Creek Trail
  7. Fern Creek Trail which follows Fern Creek up to the summit parking lot and is steep with many steps and switchbacks. Follow the for 0.75 miles to the parking lot.
  8. From the parking lot at the top it’s around 0.25 miles up the Plank Trail to the summit where there’s a watch tower. The distance from Stinson Beach is around 7.25 miles.
  9. From the summit retrace your steps back to the parking lot and then follow Verna Dunshee Trail clockwise around the summit, past the Gravity Car Barn which has one of the old railway carts on display, to the intersection with Temelpa Trail.
  10. Temelpa Trail switchbacks down the side of the mountain and is quite exposed, after a mile take the Vic Haun Trail which meets the “Double Bow Knot” where Old Railway Grade switchbacks on itself twice.
  11. Follow Old Railway Grade briefly to Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Trail which connects to the Matt Davis Trail after 1 mile.
  12. The rest of the hike follows the Matt Davis Trail for almost its entire length back down to Stinson Beach, it first follows the contour of the mountain inclining ever so slightly up to connect back to the intersection with Panoramic Highway from the route up, here cross over Pan Toll Road and follow the trail first continuing around the contour of the mountain inclining slightly down through grassy hillsides and then the final 2 miles switchbacks down through another redwood forest following a stream to the trailhead at Stinson Beach.

Maps and References

For reference the Mount Tamalpais State Park shows all the relevant trails. The Pease Press Trails of Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods, and Marin Headlands map is a very detailed walking map of the entire area, and it has some additional historical facts for a number of the trails, which I picked up from REI.