Where? : Pacheco State Park is located right on hwy 152 on its way to hwy 5.
Once HWY 152 reach the highest point there is a right turn into a short road getting to the park entrance and parking lot (10$ day use).
This park does not locate in the bay area, but I included it in south bay section because it is relatively nearby and can be visit as a day trip.
What? : Pacheco SP cover vast hills area south of the highway with many trails crossing it.
The landscape is mainly mountain ranges and valleys, mainly open space with grass land and big old trees spotting the landscape.
When? : The best time to visit this park during sunny winter/spring day, where it is not hot and all the hills are green, during summer time all is yellow and without any shade during the hike.
Due note 1: I do not think this park get a lot of visitors and you feel you have all of it for yourself, especially at a winter day.
Due note 2: The park east section (to the direction of the lake) has many wind towers turbines and not clear if it is open to the public except one trail (Dinosaur Lake Trail) so most of the hiking trails are in the west section.
My thoughts: I really enjoy my long hikes at this park, hills with old trees and open grass landscape. During a winter visit I saw many Tule elk, deer’s and few coyotes.
There are many trails covering the west side of the park so you can create yourself many different hiking trips. The east side of the park is close to public access.
You can park your car at the parking lot (need fee, bring cache) or you can park it just before entering into the park gate (on the other side of the road).
Near the parking you can find a place for picnic and gathering, not so much shade so it is not ideal for hot summer day or rainy winter day.
You can keep driving for few miles down the paved road to the lake marina, enjoy the lake view.
Recommended hike (5,3 miles, blue color in the map):
From the parking lot go out to the park gate ->
take the Dinosaur Lake Trail that parallel the road going east ->
get back into the park and follow the trail (crossing to the east side and than back to the west side of the road)->
reach Dinosaur lake ->
keep on walking on Dinosaur Lake Trail climb the ridge and keep walking until the trail is descending to the Salt Creek crossing ->
can take the Pig Pond Trail up the ridge, turn right and pass the large Pig Pound on your right ->
hiking back to parking lot using Spikes Peak Rd.