3 mile loop through redwoods.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 3 mile loop hike is moderately easy, with about 800 feet in
elevation change. Trailhead elevation is about 225 feet. The highest trail
elevation in the park is about 1734 feet.
Dirt trails and a paved road.
1 1/2 hours.
Nice any time.
From CA 1 in San Mateo County, turn east onto Pescadero Road. Drive about
2.5 miles, then turn right (south) onto Cloverdale Road. Drive about 4.5
miles, and turn left into the park. Park near the entry kiosk.
Street address (for in-transit navigation):
1500 Cloverdale Road Pescadero, CA 94060
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth
data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Parking for about 6 cars near the kiosk; more roadside parking throughout
the park. $10 day use fee (self registration if kiosk is empty). Maps available
if the kiosk is staffed (there's a map under glass at the information signboard).
Pit toilets a bit further up the road. There is no direct public transportation
to the park.
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, restaurants, and stores about 5 miles away in Pescadero. I recommend
the famous green chile soup at Duarte's. Butano has drive-in and backcountry
A few trails are multi-use, but many are designated hiking-only. Dogs are
not permitted on the trails, but they are allowed on paved park roads.
The Official Story:
Park office 650-879-2040
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
park brochure with map (pdf)
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub
this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a Butano
101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area, by
Ann Marie Brown (order
this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and featured hike.
Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, has a simple map and park
this book from Amazon.com).
Tom Taber's Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book has a simple map
and park descriptions (order
this book from Amazon.com).
View 47 photos from the featured
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
passionate bay area hiker has a few favorite places
to trek. To us these parks and preserves inspire beatific smiles and excited
stories about sublime trails and special experiences. Unfortunately, Butano
State Park is not on my top ten list. Hard to say why; it's not crowded,
ugly, boring, or dirty. Lots of people rave about the redwood canyons
and the hike-in campground. I think it's just a personality conflict,
like Maggie Simpson and that baby with one eyebrow. I don't dig Butano
and Butano doesn't dig me. It's a perfectly fine park, but to me, Butano
doesn't rise above other bay area preserves. If I want redwoods, I'll
go to Portola Redwoods State Park. Butano's
creekside trails pale in comparison to Purisima
Creek Redwoods or Monte Bello. Maybe someday
I'll experience a Butano epiphany,but until then I'll keep visiting occasionally, continuing to plod along
the paths while I dream of other trails.
Hikers who want to camp will want to check
out Butano's Trail Camp, 5.5 miles from the entrance kiosk via the Jackson
Flats and Canyon Trails. Reservations are required. Day hikers looking
for a challenge can string together Jackson Flats Trail, Canyon Trail,
Indian Trail, Doe Ridge Trail, Goat Hill Trail, and Six Bridges Trail.
This loop takes place solely on hiking-only paths (with the exception
of a short walk along the park road), and is more than 9 miles long. Butano's
most celebrated path is Año Nuevo Trail, a tricky narrow and steep
trail that ascends from the park's lowest elevation along a creek, through Douglas fir, redwoods,
hazelnut, creambush, and thimbleberry. Año Nuevo Trail meets a
rolling ridgeline fire road that allows a few loops; Goat Hill or Doe
Ridge Trail are fine choices. Unless you really object to walking on pavement,
the park road makes a decent easy circuit when combined with Creek Trail.
For the featured hike, park at the entry
kiosk. Look for the signed Año Nuevo Trail on the southeast
side of the park road, just past the nature center. Start hiking on the
path, open to hikers only, through thick vegetation that feels like the
walls of a maze to me (if you're claustrophobic and feeling it already,
this may not be a good trail for you). Dogwood, elderberry, stinging nettle,
nightshade, California coffeeberry, and blackberry thrive in this moist
habitat. The trail crosses a creek (a ramp and log should help in the
wet months), then reaches a signed junction with Six Bridges Trail. Turn
right and remain on Año Nuevo Trail.
Thimbleberry crowds the narrow path; in
July keep an eye out for ripe berries that taste and look a bit like raspberry. Hazelnut,
monkeyflower, and creambush are common. Año Nuevo Trail commands
your attention, with fallen trees to duck under, poison oak along the
path, uneven surfaces, and plenty of blind, tight curves. After a bit
of level (albeit exciting) walking, the trail heads uphill via a long
series of switchbacks. Even with switchbacks, the grade is tough. Douglas
firs loom overhead as you climb. There are some steps, as well as fallen
trees that make the hike a butt-buster. A view to the north opens up near
a rest bench (look for a short trail to the right). As the trail climbs,
trees thicken, and redwoods appear alongside Douglas fir. Fog drip keeps
the ground and plants damp, fostering ferns, baneberry, coffeeberry, huckleberry,
lots more thimbleberry, gooseberry, and twinberry, accompanying tanoak
and hazelnut, while the giant trees tower overhead. A second rest bench
appears off the right side of the trail as the path reaches a crest. If
not for the trees, there'd be a decent view south (I guess this is famous Año Nuevo vista, but it's not much of a view to
me). The trail meanders, descending gently through the quiet woods. A
few shrubs of toyon and pitcher sage seem out of place in the shade. You
may hear hawks calling from the treetops. Año Nuevo Trail ends
at a signed junction at about 1.3 miles. (You can extend this hike by
turning right and taking the fire road to Goat Hill Trail, or extend it
even more by hiking on Olmo Fire Road to Doe Ridge Trail. The fire road
is annoying, with lots of ups and downs, but the two hiking only paths
are lovely.) Turn left on Olmo Fire Road.
The dirt multi-use trail immediately heads
downhill. Tree cover is a little thinner than Año Nuevo Trail's
romp through the woods, so sunlight filters down to creambush, hazelnut,
giant chain fern, honeysuckle, coffeeberry, and gooseberry along the trail.
Watch out for banana slugs! At about 1.8 miles, Goat Hill Trail sets out
on the right side of the road at a signed junction. Turn left and continue
downhill on the fire road, which after the junction becomes a robust
road (it's kind of a driveway, so do listen for
cars). The fire road soon dips beneath Douglas firs, some of them quite
old and majestic. Gradually, as you descend, redwoods take over, until
they attain complete domination at the canyon floor. Six Bridges Trail
heads back to the trailhead at a signed junction on the left side of the
road. (Any normal hiker would prefer Six Bridges to walking back on the
park road, so exercise this option unless you're reluctant to climb some
more and then walk though the overgrown foliage along the creek.) Continue
on the fire road, which ends a few steps further, at about 2.4 miles.
Turn left and walk on the narrow paved park road back to the trailhead.
Total distance: about 3 miles
Last hiked: Monday, July 31, 2000