Sam McDonald County Park


What? : County park that cover redwood forest as well as ridge open meadows at the ridge top. The park offers few options for short/mid hiking loops.


Where? :  Located in San Mateo county approximately 3 miles west of La Honda on Pescadero Creek Road.

Google Map Link


When? : Winter is the preferred season to visit this park.


Due note: This park is connected to Pescadero Creek Park trails system at the upper section of the ridge. As a result of 2020 summer fires Pescadero Creek Park is closed to hiker’s access.


My thoughts: I like this park because it offers few loops option that cover both nice redwood forest and open meadows.


The visit:

Sam McDonald park is a unique and interesting county park that span on several different landscapes, lush growth dense redwood forest in the north section; The ridge slope of less dense forest near the Alpine creek and the grassy open meadows at the ridge top.



The main park entrance is at Sam McDonald Park at Pescadero Creek Road, but if you are coming from hwy 35 skyline ridge you can also use the very small off-road parking lot at Alpine road at Heritage Grove Trail (on the left side of the road).


There are few loop hikes options at the park, and you can combine them into longer loop.


Short hike (3-miles):

The last loop option is a short 3 miles hike covering only the north section of the park underneath the large redwood trees.

From the parking lot hike on Forest Trail, connect to Old Stage forest maintenance road and go right (down). Hike Uncle Man Road and Youth Camp Trail back to the parking lot.

The short loop (4 miles):

Starting at main park parking lot.

Take the 1.7 miles Heritage Grove trail east parallel to Alpine Creek and the mountain ridge. Once reaching Heritage Grove Trail turn right and climb to the ridge.

At the top of the ridge you will reach the wide Towne Fire Road and the grassy meadows section of the park.

Hike down to Jack Brook Horse Camp, here you can have a rest and eat something.

From this point you can go directly down by using the Towne Fire Road.

As of Feb. 2021, the Big Tree trail is close for access

Loop extension:

This loop extension is going through the north part of the park and will take you into the large redwood section of the park

From Jack Brook Horse Camp keep walking on Ridge Fire road for 1.3 miles. Cross the road and keep hiking on Old Stage forest maintenance road.

Here you have few options:

1. Take the first trail on your right, Forest trail and go back to the parking lot. This will be additional 2 miles hike and total of 6-mile loop

2. Keep walking down on Old Stage road and reach Modoc Youth Camp location in the redwood. From there hike Uncle Man Road and Youth Camp Trail back to the parking lot. Overall, this will be 6.8 miles hike.