Hiking in the South Bay


Año Nuevo State Park

Castle Rock State Park

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

Muir Wood National Monuments

Rancho Cañada Del Oro

San Francisco Bay Trail

Santa Teresa County Park

Uvas Canyon County Park

Yosemite, Merced Grove


This web site contains information and pictures from hiking trails around the south San Francisco Bay area.

Año Nuevo State Park

Año Nuevo State Park

Año Nuevo State Park is a breading ground for the elephant seals. The trail is about 1.5 miles from the visitor center to the ocean, and 1.5 miles back. It is level, but, depending upon conditions, you may have to walk in sand and up and over sand dunes. There are usually docents out by the ocean that will answer questions and tell you about the elephant seals. Depending upon the time of the year, they may only allow you on the trails on docent lead tours, and this in turn, may necesatate you getting a reservation in advance.

  • Directions: Take Highway 1 north from Santa Cruz about 20 miles, or south from Half Moon Bay about 35 miles.
  • Parking: Parking lot with ample parking.
  • Fees: $10, collected at entrance to parking lot.
  • Facilities: Out house in the parking lot.
  • Difficulty: Moderate; you usually have to do some walking in sand.

See also: Park home page, Brochure, Guided Seal Walks

Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park

The Castle Rock State Park is home to Castle Rock, a popular location with beginning rock climbers. Castle Rock is along the Castle Rock Trail, which leaves from the parking lot going to the left. Castle Rock is a few 100 yards down the trail. The trail continues past Castle Rock and connects to the Saratoga Gap trail, which you can use to go back to the parking lot. This loop is an easy hike of about a mile.

The Saratoga Gap trail, which leaves from the right side of the parking lot, connects to many other trails and also leads to the 50' Castle Rock Falls. The falls are about a 15 minute walk downhill to a large wooden viewing deck.

  • Directions: Take Highway 9 through Saratoga up to Skyline Boulevard. Turn left on Skyline Boulevard. Castle Rock State Park is on the right in about 2.5 miles.
  • Parking: Parking lot with additional parking on the street. People that arrive first typically park on the street and avoid the parking fee.
  • Fees: $8 per vehicle for parking; no entrance fee.
  • Facilities: Out house in the parking lot. No running water. There is also an out house near Castle Rock.

See also: Park home page, Brochure, Trail map, Wikipedia.

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve

The Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve is a new park that just opened in the summer of 2015 It is bordered on all sides by private property, so do not stray off the designated trail (which is the right thing to do anyway). There is just one trail, the Arrowhead Loop Trail, which begins and ends in the parking lot and is about 4 miles long. The trail increases a moderate 500 feet above the level of the parking lot.

This park is shared by hikers, joggers, bicycles, and horses. Dogs are not allowed.

  • Directions: Take 101 to San Jose. Exit 101 on Bailey Ave. Go west and turn left on Santa Teresa (which will turn into Hale Ave). Turn right on Palm Ave. The parking lot for Coyote Valley OSP is at the end of the road.
  • Parking: Parking lot with ample parking.
  • Fees: None
  • Facilities: Out house in the parking lot. No water is available.
  • Difficulty: Moderate uphill (500 feet of elevation change). Whole trail is 4 miles, but you can hike to the nearest lookout and back in less than 2 miles.
  • Warnings: Watch for poison oak.

See also: Park home page, Trail map

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods

Muir Woods, in the Muir Woods National Monument, is small pocket of redwood trees from what used to be a much larger redwood forest. The main trail, which starts at the visitor center, is a half mile long and runs through the main part of the redwood trees. This trail is paved and accessible by wheelchair.

The main trail is in a valley that is essentially flat. But, taking off from this trail are several other trails that lead up out of the valley. If you enter the park from one of these trails, you will bypass paying the entrance fee, but there is a large container at the visitor center where you can make a donation.

The Dipsea Trail runs west of and (more or less) parallel to the main trail. It ascends moderately for about 2 miles, where you come to a junction with the Ben Johnson trail. This trail descends steeply down to the upper end (Bridge 4) of the Muir Woods National Monument main trail. These trails together make about a 4 mile loop.

The Muir Woods National Monument main trail is in a valley filled with tall redwood trees, so it is cool and shady. Up on the Dipsea Trail, the trail is out in the open and there are occasional views all the way to the ocean.

  • Directions: Muir Woods National Monument is 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge off US 101. Take the Mill Valley/Stinson Beach exit, and follow the signs for Muir Woods.
  • Parking: The parking lot is small and fills fast. There is an overflow parking lot 100 yards further down the road, but it also fills quickly.
  • Fees: Adults are $7.00, children under 15 are free. Muir Woods National Monument is part of the National Park Service so there are a variety of other passes and discounts available.
  • Facilities: Restrooms, water, visitor center, cafe, gift shop, free charging stations for two electric cars.
  • Difficulty: Trails range from easy to very difficult. The main trail is paved and accessible by wheelchair.
  • Warnings: Watch for poison oak and stinging nettles.

See also: Park home page, Wikipedia.

Rancho Cañada Del Oro

Rancho Cañada Del Oro is ...

The trails in this park are shared by hikers, joggers, and horses. There is limited access to bicycles and dogs.

  • Directions: Take 101 to San Jose. Exit 101 on Bailey Avenue and go west. At the intersection with McKean Road turn left. Where McKean Road becomes Uvas Road turn right onto Casa Loma Road. Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve is at the end of the public access portion of the road.
  • Parking: Parking lot with ample parking.
  • Fees: None
  • Facilities: Restrooms in the parking lot.

See also: Park home page, Trail map

San Francisco Bay Trail

The San Francisco Bay Trail ...

See also: Trail home page, Trail map, Wikipedia.

Santa Teresa County Park

Santa Teresa County Park

The Santa Teresa County Park is in south San Jose in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There is a large parking and picnic area with tables, BBQ's, restrooms and water, but parking costs $6.00 per vehicle.

From the picnic area there are several trail heads to choose from. The trails are all fairly easy. Some are dirt roads, others are foot paths. There is only a moderate amount of elevation change, and from the ridges and peaks there are sweeping views of the Santa Clara Valley looking north and to downtown San Jose. There are also good views east towards Mount Hamilton and west towards Mount Umunhum.

This park is shared by hikers, joggers, bicycles, dogs on a leash, and horses.

  • Directions: Take US 101 or Highway 85 to south San Jose and exit at Bernal Road. Go 2-3 miles southwest on Bernal Road toward the Santa Cruz Mountains. Bernal Road continues past Santa Teresa Golf Club, where the road starts to wind through the hills. The parking and picnic area will be on the left.
  • Parking: Parking lot with ample parking.
  • Fees: $6.00 per vehicle.
  • Facilities: Restrooms, water, picnic and BBQ area, sports areas.
  • Difficulty: Some moderate hills, some rough trails.
  • Warnings: This is mountain lion and rattlesnake habitat.

See also: Park home page, Trail map, Wikipedia.

Uvas Canyon County Park

The Uvas Canyon County Park only has 7 miles of trails, but it has several waterfalls. The short, one mile Waterfall Loop Trail takes you past many of the waterfalls (Black Rock Falls, Basin Falls, and Upper Falls).

  • Directions: Uvas Canyon County Park is at the end of Croy Road in Uvas Canyon. From Highway 101, take Bernal Road west. Turn left on Santa Teresa Boulevard. Travel south 3 miles and turn right onto Bailey Avenue. Follow Bailey Road 2.3 miles to McKean Road. Turn left onto McKean Road (McKean Road becomes Uvas Road 2.2 miles south of Bailey Road). From Bailey Road travel 6 miles south on McKean/Uvas Road and turn right onto Croy Road. Continue 4.4 miles on Croy Road, through Sveadal, to reach the Park entrance.
  • Parking:
  • Fees: $6.00 per vehicle.
  • Facilities:
  • Difficulty:

See also: Park home page, Trail map, Wikipedia.

Yosemite, Mereced Grove

Yosemite, Mereced Grove

The Merced Grove in Yosemite National Park is a small grove of sequoia trees.

The trail to the Merced Grove is 1.5 miles each way. The first ½ mile is a flat, wide dirt road. Then you come to a fork in the road. The left fork is blocked by a metal gate. Walk past the gate as if it did not apply to you (which I think it does not) and continue for another mile. This part of the trail is downhill on the way there and up hill on the way back. But don’t worry, it is not too steep; it is just a slow trudge coming back. The second part of the trail is still a dirt road, but narrower and not as smooth.

After a mile or so you will see the first sequoias. While they are very large booth around and tall, the ones by the trail have a fence around them so you will not get too close. So you won’t miss them. If you go another couple hundred yards, you come too a cabin. Presumably, it is some kind of a store in the summer, but it was all boarded up when I was there in April.

  • Directions: The Merced Grove is inside Yosemite National Park about 8 miles south of the Big Oak Flat entrance station on highway 120.
  • Parking: Parking lot is small with only 9 spaces and no street parking.
  • Facilities: There is an outhouse and picnic tables at the parking lot.
  • Difficulty: Moderate - the trail out is a steady up hill climb.
  • Elevation: A little over 4000 feet. There was a little snow on the sides of the trail and in the parking lot in mid-April.