Hike by Dave Carroll, originally published in the January 2008 issue of Bay Nature magazine
Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola came upon San Pedro Valley in 1769, en route to his expedition’s accidental discovery of San Francisco Bay. On the southeastern edge of Pacifica, San Pedro Valley County Park is today a haven for Peninsula residents, wildlife, and some remarkable coastal scrub habitat. Its watershed, including two year-round creeks and a 175-foot waterfall, provides valuable steelhead spawning grounds.
On a sunny morning, paths through the picnic areas are thick with deer, jays, and joggers. Less heavily trafficked are the Valley View and Hazelnut trails. The latter trail offers excellent views of Montara Mountain and, in January and February, a rich array of early-blooming wildflowers, including giant trillium and fetid adder’s tongue. At the end of the loop, near the visitor center, the path ends in a nature trail, with native plants prominently labeled.
One of the park’s biggest attractions is Brooks Falls, which in winter cascades down into San Pedro Creek. For the best view, start on the Old Trout Farm Trail, which passes the remnants of a trout farm washed out by a 1962 flash flood. Connect to the Brooks Creek Trail and climb to the overlook. You can’t get as close to the falls as you’d like, but a bench offers an excellent spot to watch the falls drop in three silver ribbons to the valley floor.
Getting there From Highway 1, exit at Linda Mar Boulevard and turn right onto Oddstad Boulevard. $6 fee, open at 8:00 a.m. throughout the year (including holidays), closing times varying throughout the year.