Tarwater Trail Loop

EASY 8 reviews

Tarwater Trail Loop is a 4.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near La Honda, CA that features a river. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and horses. Horses are also able to use this trail.

4.4 miles 950 feet Loop

kid friendly


trail running


horseback riding



This is one of the better redwood hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area -- which is nice because not so long there was no forest left here: almost all of it had been clear-cut. The second-growth redwoods at Pescadero Creek County Park demonstrate a forest's uncanny ability to regenerate itself, if people give it the chance. Several groves of skinny young redwoods are rapidly reclaiming this section of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Best time to go: Since this is mostly shady forest walking, it's a good escape from the heat in the summer. Spring wildflower season is always gorgeous and even the rainy season will be pretty nice in the redwoods.

2 months ago

If you are allergic to poison oaks, do not come here.

3 months ago

10 months ago

Hiked in Jan right after a rain so the trail was muddy about 1/3 of the distance. Only saw 3 other people. Extended it just a bit to see part of Pomponio trail, so about 6 total miles and 3 hours, including stops to take several pics. So about 2.5 hours hiking time. But I'm writing this review to notify everyone that a lot of the trails in the area have been renamed. So part of what used to be the Tarwater trail is now the Shingle Mill trail. But the trailhead has a nice map and they've published a new one dated Nov 2015. The trail junctions have new signs and they are number coded. Kudos to the county for these new signs. Everyone should go to this new system. Takes a lot of doubt out of "where are we?"

1 year ago

Fun trail! The open rolling meadows are gorgeous, we came across an abandoned cabin which was my favorite part. Gigantic redwood tree blew my mind - visiting from the Midwest and have never seen a tree so mesmerizing!!
The jail was really creepy - would be fun to do this around Halloween. We didn't walk all the way back, it appears to be in use for some other reason. A fun, eclectic hike!

1 year ago

Went here a couple of weeks ago with the husband. We got as far as the ruined mill when we came across where the trail was now closed. Would have liked to see the rest. There is an absolutely huuuuge redwood along the trail here. It's so large it has another tree growing inside the hollowed out base of the tree. The trail was in good condition, but I was a bit clumsy and rolled my ankle. Fortunately, it didn't keep me from finishing the hike.
The road out here feels very off the beaten path. It's paved, but only large enough for one car at a time. Fortunately we didn't meet any other cars coming in or going out. I was also glad we had an SUV, because some of the ruts in the pavement were deep.
There is no bathroom available at the trailhead. We stopped at another open space area nearby to use the facilities there.

2 years ago

3 years ago

Half downhill, half uphill what do ya know!

Very scenic through some really massive redwoods! Less than 15 min in you come across the largest tree on the trail and it's mind blowing. The loop is easily completed in 2 hours.

Unclear if this is a dog friendly trail or not... We got mixed info and brought a dog anyways, didn't seem to be an issue.

So quiet and serene, hard to believe the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley is less than an hour away.

FYI - The last road you turn on to make it to the trailhead is very narrow and looks like a beaten up golf-cart path. Plenty of parking at the trailhead.

3 years ago

This is a wonderful hike through gorgeous redwoods and beautiful scenery. We only saw 3 people on the entire hike. We took a slightly larger loop by going from Tarwater Trail, continuing on Canyon Trail, then heading south on Bear Ridge Trail, then back up Tarwater trail.

Beware of the creek! This trail is aptly named. We unfortunately allowed our dog to go into the water and we will now be cleaning tar out of our car for ions to come.

None of the elevation gain/loss is steep as the trails meander up the slope in a gentle incline. The trails are well maintained and easily spotted.