(an unofficial information page for)
San Pedro Valley County Park
General Information: San Pedro Valley County Park is located at 600 Oddstad Boulevard, Pacifica, 94044. Open 8 a.m to 6 p.m. Weekend admission charge of $3.00. For more information, contact the park Visitor Center and Ranger Station at (650) 355-8289.
(From the book "Montara Mountain" by Barbara VanderWerf, Gum Tree Lane Books)
"San Pedro Valley County Park in Pacifica is a 1,150-acre jewel in the chain of San Mateo County parks. The park offers fine hiking through rich and diverse Coastal Scrub and Coastal Chaparral vegetation and along year-round creeks. When the rest of the San Mateo County coast is foggy, you can hike the park's sunny valley and watch the fog pour over the mountain tops. Or, on brilliant sunny days, you can hike to the mountain tops and enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, San Mateo County, San Francisco and Marin County.
"In the spring, the wildflowers - especially along Hazelnut trail - are abundant and magnificently varied. In all seasons and on all trails, walk quietly to observe the wildlife, from Mule Deer to Merriam Chipmunks, and from Scrub Jays to Wrentits.
"Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center, which is staffed by welcoming San Pedro Valley Park Volunteers. You'll enjoy the nature exhibits, the library and the exceptional collection of pressed flowers. And don't miss the observation platform overlooking the South Fork of San Pedro Valley Creek, just off the patio.
"San Pedro Valley County Park is especially popular with families. The park shares a boundary with McNee Ranch State Park.
San Pedro Valley County Park has a wide range of habitats, from open ridge-top prairie to sheltered canyons, Coastal Scrub and Coastal Chaparral. Willows, Alders, Oaks, even Redwoods are found in the lower valleys. The Coastal Chaparral Community along the Hazelnut and Brooks Falls trails feature wonderful specimens of Manzanita, Hazelnut, Salal, Chinquapin, and Madrone.
Birds and animals are abundant in the park: Mule Deer, Bobcats, Raccoons, Squirrels, Brush Rabbits, Merriam Chipmunks are often seen, especially in the early morning hours. Watch for the large Wood-Rat nests along the trails: Hut-like piles of twigs and branches up to five feet tall. Mountain Lion tracks are sometimes noted at the higher elevations, although they are rarely encountered. Quail, Flickers, Hummingbirds, Ravens, Owls, Vultures, Hawks, Jays, Wrentits, Warblers, Flycatchers, Sparrows, Finches and Towhees are among the many birds that inhabit the park.
All plants and animals are protected. Take only pictures - and leave only footprints.
Trails and Recreational Uses
Hiking is allowed on all trails; bicycles are only allowed on Weiler Ranch Road. No bicycles are allowed on the other trails. Horses allowed except on Brooks Creek Trail and Brooks Falls Overlook Trail. Trail maps and nature guides are available at the Visitor's Center. No fishing is allowed.
San Pedro Valley County Park has eight trails:
Plaskon Nature Trail: 400 feet one way. Easy. Designed for the disabled, this easy trail takes a leisure stroll through the valley floor. Good for ferns along the creek banks.
Old Trout Farm Trail: 0.3 miles one way along the South Fork of San Pedro Creek. Easy, wheelchair accessible. Connects with Brooks Falls Overlook Trail for a 0.9 mile loop. Excellent bird watching and groves of Dogwood.
Brooks Falls Overlook Trail: 0.6 miles one way. Moderate. Connects with Old Trout Farm Trail for a 0.9 mile loop. Wanders through a planted grove of Redwood, Pines, and Eucalyptus. Good trailside wildflowers in early spring.
Brooks Creek Trail: 0.8 miles one way. Moderate to Rigorous. The trail to actually see Brooks Falls. Beautiful groves of Manzanita, Madrone, Willow and Chinquapin.
Montara Mountain Trail: 2.1 miles one way. Rigorous. 200 to 1400 foot elevation change. Connects with Brooks Creek Trail for a loop hike of 2.2 miles. Through groves of Huckleberry, Honeysuckle, Lilac, Chinquapin and Manzanita, with beautiful views of the Pacific Coast as you climb. Terminates at an intersection with the North Peak Access Road in McNee Ranch State Park. If you're out to walk to the peak, this trail takes you on a much less excruciating path than coming up the south side.
Weiler Ranch Road: 1 mile one way. Easy - measured jogging trail. Along the Middle Fork of San Pedro Creek, passes near group picnic facility. Heavily used, yet a good trail to view wildlife.
Valley View Trail: 1.4 miles one way. Access from Weiler Ranch Road. Moderate, some switchbacks, 200 - 550 feet elevation. Through an area of former cattle grazing that is now recovering to native Coastal Scrub Community.
Hazelnut Trail: 3.7 miles one way - Moderate to Rigorous, 200 - 1000 foot elevation. As Barbara VanderWerf says in her book "Montara Mountain: "Hazelnut Trail is THE plant trail. Nearly every plant on Montara Mountain can be found along its edges." Linking the two valleys of the South and Middle Forks of San Pedro Creek, Hazelnut trail passes through multiple mini-habitats as it climbs up and over the 1000 foot high ridge that separates them.
Toni Corelli's Plant Check List for Hazelnut trail
San Pedro Valley County Park has a visitor center with a museum, library and bookstore. The center is open from 10 AM - 4 PM on weekends. Restrooms, phones and water are available at the Visitor Center, near the Parking Lot and near the reserved picnic areas. Benches and overlooks along all trails. Walnut Grove Picnic Area requires reservations: (650) 363-4021.
Poison Oak grows in abundance at San Pedro Valley. Stay on fire roads and trails to avoid it. This year's El Nino conditions have produced many small mud slides and slippages. Stay on marked trails and obey posted signs for closed trails. Sections of San Pedro Valley and Montara Mountain are very remote - do not follow "renegade" trails or wander off the marked trails - unless someone knows where you've gone and when, it may take days or even weeks for a rescue or search team to find you.
Elevation and Weather
Much of San Pedro Valley is fairly steep, although the trail designs take good advantage in the natural contours in avoiding any undue inclines. Trails range from level walks along the valley floor to climbs of 1400 feet in elevation.
The weather can change quickly on the coast. Dress in layers, as the fog may move on or off-shore at any time and drastically alter the temperature. Sunny and warm conditions on the valley floor can turn wet and cold by the time you gain a little elevation.
No dogs or other pets are allowed in San Pedro Valley County Park, except for guide and helper animals. Horses are allowed on designated trails.
A large parking lot is available at the park entrance, with overflow at another lot just to the north for a $3.00 entrance fee. Street parking outside the park is discouraged, in respect for the neighboring communities.
By Car: San Pedro Valley County Park is located at 600 Oddstad Boulevard in Pacifica. Take Highway 1 to the Linda Mar intersection (the southern most stoplight in Pacifica), and turn inland 2 miles until Linda Mar Boulevard ends at Oddstad. Turn right and then immediately left into the park.
By Public Transit: The Samtrans 1L or 1C run from the Daly City and Colma Bart stations to the Linda Mar stop. From there, transfer to the 10L, which stops at Linda Mar and Oddstad Boulevards, a half block from the park entrance. Samtrans info: 1-800-660-4BUS.
The San Pedro Valley County Park volunteers do trail work and staff the Visitor Center and Gift Shop. The volunteer group meets the second Wednesday of each month at the Visitor Center at 7 PM, and trail work days are the second Saturday of each month from 8 a.m. to noon, and also hosts special events, picnics, hikes and get-togethers at the park. For more information, call (650) 355-5454.