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Sam McDonald County Park

Julia and I visited Sam McDonald recently and found it to be delightful. We can construct a number of hikes ranging from 5 to 10 miles. It is mostly redwoods, it receives coastal breezes and it is not very steep - you may think that's good or bad.

Sam McDonald adjoins Pescadero Creek County Park and connects to Memorial County Park and Portola Redwoods State Park. So we have lots of trail options. Parking is $6.

Distance: we've got a route planned for 9 miles - we've only seen half of this route.

Elevation: based on what we know and what we can see on maps, the elevation change is under 800 feet. There don't appear to be any really severe slopes.

Difficulty: moderate, except for length.

Trails: (click here for full map; see Sam McDonald map for this portion) from main parking lot we will hike south on Ridge Loop Trail to Towne Fire Road to Brook Trail Loop. (see Pescadero Creek map for next portion) Now we walk southwest on Brook Trail loop - this is approx. a 6 mile loop. We return to Towne Fire Road and backtrack to the cars. (We originally planned to include Heritage Grove Trail, but this would add another 2 miles).

Driving Directions: It's difficult to describe, so I recommend that you ask Google Maps for directions to "Sam McDonald County Park, Loma Mar, CA" - this leads you to the main parking lot where we are meeting. Here are three options. The distance and time shown assume that you start at Foothill College for either option. If you miss the final turnoff onto Pescadero Creek Road, you may not realize it for many miles, so be sure you have directions with you.

  1. Google says 17 miles, 49 minutes. Take El Monte or Page Mill to Skyline, then continue on Alpine Road, crossing over Skyline (you see Russian Ridge parking lot on your right). Continue down Alpine Road towards Portola Redwoods, but stay on Alpine and do not take the turnoff for Portola. After about 1/4 mile be sure you do not make a left turn on Camp Pomponio Road. About 3 miles after the Portola Redwoods turnoff, be prepared for sharp left turn onto Pescadero Creek Road; it is easy to miss. Drive 0.5 mile on Pesc Creek Rd, turn right into the park; again, it is easy to pass.
  2. Google says 23 miles, 38 minutes. Take 280 to San Hill Road. Take Portola Road to 84 - this is a special shortcut, be sure you know this one in advance. Take 84 to La Honda. Shortly after the town of La Honda, turn left onto Pescadero Road (might be named Alpine Road). Drive 1.1 mile and turn right onto Pescadero Creek Road. Drive 0.5 mile on Pesc Creek Rd, turn right into the park; again, it is easy to pass.
  3. Becky pointed out that these directions are not so good for San Jose area residents. If that applies, then you probably want to drive thru Saratoga to Hwy 9, up to Skyline, then go north on Skyline until you reach Page Mill/Alpine/Russian Ridge. At that point follow the rest of the route in #1.

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  • Jeff

    Once I downloaded my GPS to my computer the mileage came out closer to what Glenn's GPS said. I show we did 8.77 miles.

    August 20, 2013

    • Monica

      Well, it felt like 9.3!

      August 20, 2013

  • Femy

    Big thanks to Glenn and Julia

    August 19, 2013

  • Femy

    I enjoyed my first hike at this park and the company of everyone. We should go back next year and hike the other trails.

    1 · August 19, 2013

  • Jeanne S.

    Sadly, I have a bad case of hikers toe and will have to lay off for a couple of weeks per the doctor :-(. But, ill be back! You all are so nice and welcoming! Thank you!

    August 19, 2013

  • Glenn N

    We didn't get lost, just a bit confused. Well, anyone would with those maps.

    August 19, 2013

  • Mary

    Beautiful hike, Julia and Glenn. Many years since I've been there and it was good to revisit. And it's close to home. Thanks for a lovely day!

    August 19, 2013

  • David C.

    Great choice, Glenn! I'm always excited about exploring a place I've not been to before, and this is one I'll definitely want to go back to.

    1 · August 19, 2013

  • Das (Narendra D.

    Thanks Glenn and Julia for organizing the hike!

    August 18, 2013

  • Das (Narendra D.

    Wonderful redwood trees ! Didn't feel the stress of 9.3 Mile hike !

    1 · August 18, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks so much Glenn and Julia! had a great day!

    August 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great day,,, thanks for planning
    It.,,

    August 17, 2013

  • becky

    Beautiful redwood park -- felt so remote, yet only 30 miles away, and the drive on Alpine Rd was gorgeous and little traffic. Great location and wonderful group of hikers. Thank you Julia and Glenn!

    August 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great park, great trails, even greater people, 9.3 miles ... A great workout

    August 17, 2013

  • Monica

    I loved how you saved Heritage Grove at the end. What fabulous Redwoods! Some appeared to be first growth. Thanks Julia and Glenn!

    August 17, 2013

  • Jeff

    Great hike. Way more elevation gain than I was expecting. Thanks Glenn and Julia.

    August 17, 2013

  • Frank

    Great day!

    August 17, 2013

  • Jeanne S.

    Another great bunch of people!

    August 17, 2013

  • Marianne

    Taking care of a sore foot muscle.

    August 17, 2013

  • becky

    If anyone is interested in carpooling, I'll be at the Saratoga carpool location at 7:40. Have one passenger so far and can accommodate two more. Taking Hwy9 to Skyline to Alpine Rd to Pescadero.

    August 15, 2013

    • Anne N

      Hi Becky, I am not so sure if I could carpool with Shelly. I am still waiting for her reply but I would like to carpool.

      August 15, 2013

    • Femy

      Looks like Shelly will not be going to the hike.

      August 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Anyone want to carpool from Palo Alto/280 park n ride?

    August 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I am On the waiting list. If I make it I would love to carpool I live in Menlo Park

      August 14, 2013

    • Anne N

      Hi Shelly, I would like to carpool if you still have one open seat. Thank you,

      August 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks for clearing me off the waiting list - I wish I could join you but have a family emergency and have to leave town tomorrow for a few days. Good news for the 1 left on the waitlist! See you soon.

    August 14, 2013

  • Glenn N

    Changed to manual waiting list since we now have a +1 one on the wait list. So anyone on the wait list just be patient.

    August 14, 2013

  • Dawn

    Have to go out of town. So sorry to miss this hike.

    August 14, 2013

  • Glenn N

    Updated the driving directions. I highly recommend you use GPS or printout.

    August 13, 2013

  • Dawn

    Lovely! Thanks for discovering this park Glenn & Julia.

    June 18, 2013

19 went

  • Glenn N
    Centennial Club 100+ Hikes, Assistant Organizer,
    Event Host
  • julia
    Event Host
  • Lori T
    Centennial Club 100+ Hikes, Organizer
  • Femy
    Centennial Club 100+ Hikes
  • David C. +1
    Honorary Member, Assistant Organizer
  • becky
    Centennial Club 100+ Hikes
  • Monica
    Founding Member + Centennial Club 100+ Hikes
  • Frank +1
  • MARCIA
    Founding Member + Centennial Club 100+ Hikes, Assistant Organizer
  • A former member
  • A former member
    +1 guest
  • A former member

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