Butano State Park,
California State Parks,
San Mateo County
In brief:
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.

Mostly shaded.

Trail traffic:

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails and a paved road.

Hiking time:
1 1/2 hours.

Nice any time.

Getting there:
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:
Latitude 3712'6.69"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Trailhead details:
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 campgrounds.

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:
CSP's Butano page.
Park office 650-879-2040

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Official park brochure with map (pdf)
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a Butano hike.
• 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 descriptions (order 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 hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

Each passionate bay area hiker has a few favorite places to trek. TrailheadTo 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. Maybe someday I'll experience a Butano epiphany. I have to keep trying!
      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. A redwood canyonReservations 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. Ano Nuevo TrailAño 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. Ano 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. Olmo Fire Road 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, Park 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