Saddle Loop,
San Bruno Mountain State and County Park,
County of San Mateo Parks,
San Mateo County
In brief:
2.9 mile loop is one of the most popular routes in the park; great for easy exercise and for area views.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 2.9 mile loop hike is easy, with about 120 feet of elevation change.

Full sun except for a few pockets of shade.

Trail traffic:

Trail surfaces:
Wide dirt trails and a paved trail.

Hiking time:
2 1/2 hours.

Nice any time.

Getting there:
• From US 101 in San Francisco County, exit #429B Third Street/Cow Palace. Drive south on Bayshore to the junction with Guadalupe Canyon Parkway, and turn right. Drive uphill about 2 miles to the park entrance on the right side of the road.
• From northbound US 101, take Exit 426A toward the Cow Palace and drive north on Bayshore Boulevard; then turn left onto Guadalupe Canyon Parkway.
• From Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, exit #50 Mission Street. Take Market to Guadalupe Canyon Parkway and drive east to the park entrance on the left side of the road. (This is the most difficult way to the park if you're unfamiliar with the area.)

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3741'48.83"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, stores, and restaurants on Mission and Bayshore. No camping.

Trailhead details:
$6 entrance fee (self-registration if kiosk is unstaffed). Once past the kiosk, park in the first lot; drive straight toward the fire road gate, then turn right (the lot is not really visible from the kiosk). Large parking lot. Maps available at the entrance kiosk. Restrooms near the picnic area, north of the parking lot. Pay phone in parking lot. There is no direct public transportation to the park.

Bikes permitted on a few trails. Horses and hikers share the rest. No dogs.

The Official Story:
CSMP's San Bruno page.
Park office 650-992-6770

Map Choices/More Info:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from CSMP 
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from has a great map and descriptions of a San Bruno hike.
Trails of the Coastside and Northern Peninsula (map) is a good guide (available from Pease Press).
Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, has a simple map and trail descriptions (order this book from
The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book, by Tom Taber, has a simple map and trail descriptions (order this book from
Bay Nature article about San Bruno Mountain

View photos from this hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

Saddle Loop is the most popular hike at San Bruno. Trailhead An easy under 3 mile circuit, the loop makes a fine exercise track for neighborhood joggers and walkers. In Spring, Saddle Loop is a frequent destination for wildflower enthusiasts. It's also a great "orientation" hike for active out-of-town guests. Not only are there unparalleled views of San Francisco, but on a clear day you may see the Farallon Islands, much of the Point Reyes Peninsula, Mount Diablo, Mount Tamalpais, and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
     Begin at the trailhead parking lot and walk north a few feet. Saddle Trail, open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians, starts out skirting the picnic area under a tall stand of eucalyptus. Turn right onto Saddle Trail. After about 300 feet, you reach a junction. The trail to the right heads south.Saddle Trail  Stay to the left on Saddle Trail. The wide gravel and dirt trail soon abandons the picnic area and starts an easy climb. You may see coyote brush, sagebrush, and poison oak, but the dominant plant is gorse (spanish broom), a non-native that has established a stronghold at San Bruno. As Saddle Trail crests, you'll have nice views south to San Bruno's summit, and east to Mount Diablo. The trail takes a turn north and west, revealing the tall buildings of downtown San Francisco and the Bay Bridge. Saddle Trail ascends slightly, then, near the northern border of the park, drops a bit, then heads west to a signed junction at 1 mile. The trail to the left passes through San Bruno's day camp, and ends back at the trailhead. This trail is an option for a shorter hike. Continue straight on Saddle Trail.
      Hawks, kestrels, and other raptors may be glimpsed soaring through the skies. Saddle Trail begins a gentle descent. There are nice views north and west. As you reach the western edge of the park, the trail sweeps south, then ends at a signed junction at 2.1 miles. Turn left onto Old Guadalupe Trail. Old Guadalupe Trail
     Wide, paved Old Guadalupe Trail is a level multi-use path. You may see the native shrub California coffeeberry, but much of the vegetation, such as acacia, cotoneaster, and eucalyptus, is nonnative. The trail reaches a signed junction at 2.3 miles. You can take the trail to the right back to the trailhead, although it'll probably be muddy in the winter and early spring. Continue straight on Old Guadalupe Trail.
     A thick forest of eucalyptus shelter the trail. Old Guadalupe Trail winds through the trees on a level course, passing Bog Trail, and then ending at a junction with Saddle Trail at 2.9 miles. Turn right to return to the trailhead.

Total distance: 2.9 miles
Last hiked: Friday, November 17, 2000