What? : A large state
park that protects second growth redwoods forest in Little Bunato Creek basin, San
Mateo County. The Park was severely damaged by the 2020 CZU summer fire and it
was close for long time, recently a small section of this large park was reopened
to the public.
Where? : Park entrance
is located on Cloverdale Rd not so far south from the town of Pescadero, at ocean
side of San Mateo County.
Due note 3: For your
safety, please stay out of closed areas.
My thoughts: First time I
visit here was few years back, before the CZU 2020 fire, I went to a very long
hike all the way to the high mountains at the park east section. Unfortunately,
the fire severely damage Butano forest and currently, Jan 2022, the majority of
the park is still close.
I hiked he at a nice winter day afternoon. I enjoy the
hike through the redwood forest, you can see the fire damage, but you can also
see how the redwoods resilience to fire and how the forest starts slowly to
Park is probably among the most overlooked and less visited redwood parks in
His location, not so far the ocean, where highway 1 is the main tourist
attraction and the “competition” it has from more "attractive/famous" Redwoods parks nearby, did
not help to its popularity.
Due to the CZU
Fire, many sections of Butano State Park will remain closed.
protect from future logging a second growth redwood forest growing at Little unto
The Park Ben
Ries Campground provides 21 drive-in campsites, 18 walk-in campsites, is closed
from December 1st to March 31st. Reservations for April 1st through November
30th are available by clicking the online reservation tab above or by calling
During a dry,
windy day in August 2020 a fire sparked by lightning strikes started in few places
along the coastal mountain ridge.
It took the California
fire fighters together with park and forest cures 37 days to contain the CZU
fires that covered over 86,500 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.
The CZU fires burned
at different intensities across the landscape. In some places it may even have a
long-term positive impact on the ecosystem, burning grassland without creating
major fire damage to the trees. In others places the fire burned much hotter completely
burning the tall trees and create major damage to the vegetation and soil.
The large and
most famous redwood park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, located south of Butano
suffered from out-of-control flames that burned completely the tall redwoods
and destroyed all park building and trails. Here at Butano the fire burned
slower and cooler creating a lot less damage, today you can walk in forest sections
where only close to the ground vegetation was burned and many trees stays
The fire did destroy
the park’s trails, a campground, the water system, power lines and other
features and will cost the public million dollars for partial recovery.
About 6 miles
of the park’s 16 miles of trails have reopened inside the 4,700-acre park,
including the popular Año Nuevo Trail, with a scenic lookout.
I decided to
hike the longest loop trail that is open starting just at the park pay station.
If you can’t find
parking spot near the front gate pay station there is another parking lot not
far down the road, on your right.
This is a 5
miles loop trail, but you can make a shorter hike in few places.
recommend doing this hike clockwise, starting the other direction is a major
climb up the mountain.
Flats Trail start right behind the close visitor center. The trail climbs moderately
and start to follow the creek direction. Here you will pass few redwood groves
and as it looks like this section of the forest was not hit by the fire at all.
Make sure not
to turn and get into trails that are close to hikers.
The trail will
follow the creek at the same level for almost a mile and from this point a turn
to the right and a short but steep downhill section will take you down to the
creek below. When I visit here, Feb 2022, there are running water in the creek
and there is a small bridge to cross it, here you will connect to the main park
Here you can
keep doing the large loop, but you can also hike back along the creek and the
lush forest to the parking lot.
the road, on your right you will see the start of Olmo Fire Trail near the
Get into the
road and immediately look for a trail on your left, take left into Six Bridge
Trail, cross the small bridge and hike for another 0.5 miles.
Already at this
section of the hike you will start to see the fire damage to the forest in some
sections although most of the tall redwoods, even if burned at the lower
sections, are not major burned by the fire.
the park small amphitheater on your left you will reconnect to the road, hike
on the road into the campground and turn left on the first road.
the large woodshed, you will see a small sign that indicate the trailhead, here
is the start of the trail that is leading up the mountain. It small sign
indicate you should follow the red ribbons that mark the trail in this fire
From here the
trail climb all the way to the ridge top, this 1.6-mile trail section was hit
by the fire, in some sections you will see major damage to the vegetation and
in others they were less affected. At the end of this trail section, you will
reach the main dirt road, Olmo Fire Trail.
Keep hiking on
the fire road for short hike, just before the point that the road start to turn
right and descend into the valley you will see a small trail post named Ano-Nuevo
Trail on your left.
will take across the ridge line forest and all the way down to the main park
entrance. At this section that was hit by the fire, park employees did extensive
recovery operation, collecting a lot of the unburned woods into piles and
cleaning the forest floor and protecting it from future major fires.
is 1.5 mile long where the second part is a steep long hike down the mountain
slop all the way to the creek, therefore it is less recommend doing this hike in
the uphill direction.
Once you will
reach the creek level you will see a small bridge crossing the river to your left,
this will take you back to the park entrance, if you keep hiking you can reach
to the small parking lot down the road.