Quarry Park,
San Mateo County Parks,
San Mateo County
In brief:
1.2 mile out and back hike through old quarry grounds in El Granada. The park has a frightening amount of invasive plants, mostly notably eucalyptus.

Distance and difficulty:
This 1.2 mile out and back hike is easy, although there is one short moderate climb. Total elevation change is about 400 feet.

Mostly shaded.

Trail traffic:

Trail surfaces:
Wide dirt trails.

Hiking time:
Under an hour.

Nice any time.

Getting there:
From CA 1 in El Granada (San Mateo County, 4 miles north of Half Moon Bay), turn at a traffic light onto Alhambra. Drive southeast on Alhambra about 0.3 mile, then bear left onto The Alameda. Drive about 0.5 mile to a junction with Avenue Cabrillo, turn left, then almost immediately, turn left onto Alhambra, drive one block, then turn right onto Santa Maria. Drive about 0.2 mile, then turn right onto Columbus, and make an immediate left turn into the parking area.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3730'11.79"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Stores, restaurants, gas, and pay phones are available in nearby Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Pillar Point Harbor, Princeton-by-the-Sea, and Moss Beach. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Small dirt roadside parking lot. No parking or entrance fees, although you can make a donation to the park at a dropbox near the playground. There are portable toilets, but no drinking water. You can study the park map at an information signboard, but there are no paper maps to take with you. SamTrans bus #17 stops within walking distance of the trailhead. Visit the Transit Info website for details.

Park is open from dawn to dusk. Dogs are permitted on leash only. Fire roads are multi-use, while the park paths are open to hikers and equestrians only.

The Official Story:
San Mateo County Parks' Quarry Park page

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from SMCP
Trails of the Coastside and Northern Peninsula (map) has a good map of the park, and is helpful in getting there (available from Pease Press).

Quarry Park in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

At a glance, Quarry Park doesn't seem to provide much for bay area hikers. Parking area It's a small park with a few fire roads and trails which wind through an old quarry property. Hillsides are tangled with mostly exotic vegetation, including ivy and broom, and the dominant plant is eucalyptus. However, a glance at Ben Pease's Trails of the Coastside and Northern Peninsula offers a different perspective. Although currently Quarry Park is restricted by private property to the north and east, if that property ever becomes publicly held (and recreation use of the Peninsula Watershed opens up), hikers, equestrians, and cyclists could use the park as a gateway to long treks along the spine of Montara Mountain. If this dream becomes a reality in our lifetime, existing ranch roads which travel the 2 miles from Quarry Park to the watershed and ridge would make perfect trails. Ascending fire road Until then El Granada residents use Quarry Park as a daily destination for dogwalks and jogs.
     Rock culled from the property's quarry was used in the construction of CA 1 and the Half Moon Bay Airport (formerly a World War II airport). San Mateo County purchased the land in 1995, and the non-profit Midcoast Park Lands group maintains the park. Park volunteers work to remove invasives, plant native vegetation, and restore the park, which is an important community asset. Note that while the fire road are well signed (albeit with slightly incorrect mileage estimates), the park's trails are not.
      Start from the little parking area, and walk east on a flat dirt road. Private property squeezes this access road on both sides, so obey no trespassing signs, and do not bother the horses. A bench along the trail to the viewpoint At 0.04 mile you'll reach a gate and information kiosk. Once through a gap between the fence and the gate the flat fire road enters a eucalyptus forest. Although there are a few native plants like thimbleberry and creambush, nearly the entire understory is choked with invasive ivy. You may also see some blackberry and acacia. The trail splits at a signed junction at 0.15 mile. Turn right.
     After a level preamble, the broad fire road begins an easy climb. More non-native plants flourish here, including pampas grass, fennel, Pride of Madeira, acacia, and lots of broom. Some monkeyflower, coyote brush, alder, and lizardtail struggle against the invasives. At 0.33 mile the trail forks at a signed junction. The trail to the right descends to Highway 1. Bear left.
    The grade picks up a bit to a moderate pace. Eucalyptus continues to dominate the landscape, but pine and cypress are common as well. At 0.46mile, the fire road splits once more. Bear left.Boardwalk to viewing area
    Descending a bit, the trail passes a bench on the left, then reaches a cleared spot with a picnic table and planted young redwoods. Turn left onto a wooden boardwalk at 0.50 mile.
    The boardwalk descends a few feet, then ends at a fenced viewpoint. There are two benches from which, on clear days, you can enjoy views to Pillar Point Harbor. When I visited it was nearly completely fogged in. Retrace your steps back to the first junction with the trail to the quarry floor, at 0.82 mile, then turn right.
     After a short foray through eucalyptus and ivy, the trail ends at the quarry floor, at 0.93 mile. From the flat cleared floor you can see uphill, to the viewing platform perched at the edge of the cliff. When ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 1.19 miles
Last hiked: Tuesday, October 22, 2002