nature trips

trail running



no dogs



kid friendly


Butano State Park, situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains midway between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, is prized for the diversity of its habitats and wildlife, and for the depth of its solitude. Many visitors to Butano- thought to be named after a drinking cup made from a bull’s horn- find it the perfect place to shed everyday stresses. Nature’s vital processes can be seen everywhere. The unusual bend of a redwood tree tells the story of a long-ago earthquake. Elsewhere, the root of an alder tree begins eight feet up its trunk before reaching the ground, revealing the history of flooding in this area. The Candelabra redwood tree, with five huge branches jutting upright parallel to the trunk, is an odd natural phenomenon on a parcel recently added to the park. Those who take the time to stroll along a park trail or set up a tent will discover the beauty and solace of one of California’s least-known parks. The park is on the San Mateo Coast, off Highway One. Three miles northeast of the Gazos Creek Coastal Access Point by way of Gazos Creek Road, and about 4.5 miles southeast of Pescadero by way of the Pescadero and Cloverdale Roads. The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park. Open sunrise to sunset.

Challenging on the uphill with a few switch backs over drainages. Mile 5 is when you hit Doe Trail to Goat Trail - a gentle down hill with lazy S turns. Footing was solid for narrow trails. I’m excited to check it out again.

Great trail. There are a few short sections of the trail that look like they could wash out with a good rain or two so might avoid around then. Tons of shade and enjoyed walking through the trees. Very little traffic

This trail is pretty nice, good variety of things to see, including some good views, but I agree with Ryan H. that it would have been even nicer in the spring when the creekbeds weren't dry. "Moderate" is an optimistic difficulty rating, I've done "Hard" trails that were easier than this. It's long, with lots of uphill, and I was relieved that I wasn't backpacking to the campground. We left + returned from Ben Ries campground which allowed us to skip the steep downhill on Nuevo.

Arrived before 10 on labor day and there was some parking available. There is parking near the trail-head past the first restroom.

We did this clockwise and it provides a nice gentle slope up so as not to be too strenuous.

Lots of redwoods, shade, and slugs. I can see that in the winter there may be running streams but not at the end of summer.

Overall, beautiful, quiet, not many others, and cool. A moderate hike due to length (add the walk from the first bathroom and we did about 9 miles).

Did a quick 9.5 miles in about 3.5 hours. Definitely start the loop via Jackson Flats; I can imagine the immediate switchbacks the other way would be enough to scare people off. It was much easier coming down Nuevo.

A lot of different biomes are covered in this hike, but it’s mostly shade. A few times you break out onto a ridge and get some sun, but never too much. The way I went there definitely is significant elevation gain, even if no stint of uphill lasts that long.

Would recommend as a spring hike. Late summer there’s not much running water so not a tremendous amount to see, but for the ridiculous amount of poison oak. There’s a vista or two but is mostly in the covered forest

At the end of the driveway to the campground, you can also go straight on the service road through a gate. Soon you’ll see the path from campsite merges in, followed by a signage post to goat hill trail on your right side.

on Butano Creek Trail

6 months ago

7 months ago

Great hike - I think Butano is the best Redwood park in the Bay Area ... bc of the quiet. Easy to find trail head but not a ton of parking. The Flats Trail was simply amazing due to a small amount of fog - watch out for Newts - they were every where on the trail. Canyon also a great trail however dont take it all the way - turn right on Indian. Coming down Nuevo wasnt easy - very steep

Awesome hike. Lots of great redwoods and a nice flowing creek.

11 months ago

Tons of banana slugs some up hill & climbing over & under trees. 3 miles total. Was a nice hike with our 5 year olds, 2 year old needed a good amount of carrying.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Great hike...super quiet....saw no one else on the trail. Gorgeous towards the end where you're walking through lush hip high greenery.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The steep hike up at the start of Año Nuevo trail was the perfect way to begin 2018! I didn't download the hike and just used the paper copy at the Ranger station. I got off track a bit around the Ben Ries campground, but walking on the road the last bit of the way wasn't bad. Super serene, sweet hike.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Great hike--love Butano--so quiet--hiked into only one couple. Never had done Canyon Trail--most California Nutmegs I have ever seen and beautiful chalk geology and botany.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Did an abbreviated version from the Ben Ries Campground: Goat Hill -> Doe Ridge -> Olmo Fire Road -> Indian -> Canyon -> Jackson Flats -> Mill Ox.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Great hike through a variety of different types of forests!

on Butano Creek Trail

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The last part of hike is on the road.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Very beautiful but pay close attention to the map, you may find yourself walking a little extra that can easily surpass an "easy" level

Really serene and smells wonderful. saw a small group of deer and it was super quiet! Loads of salamanders and banana slugs!! I kinda wish I had brought a friend because I saw after hiking that there are mountain lions here..and it seemed the sort of territory one may encounter one

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

My girlfriend and I are avid hikers and came to butano just yesterday. We started up año nuevo, to gazos trail, and came back down on olmos rd. While incredibly beautiful, taking the trail this direction was absolutely NOT "easy" and we wanted to let people know who might be bringing children or anyone unfit for such a hike. Intense and immediate altitude gains from the beginning and a constant increase in elevation, even through most of gazos. Most definitely a fantastic and beautiful hike, but definitely don't the difficulty for granted when going in this direction.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Pretty trees, mostly shaded, not too steep, lots of poison oak.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Great easy hike for the family with plenty of cover from the sun. Clean well kept trail. Kids saw tons of banana slugs!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Easy hike for the family with plenty of cover free m the summer sun. kids found over 60 banana slugs. Also a very well maintained trail.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Loved this hike. Was able to do this hike with my 18 month old son. Beautiful. Very much plan to do this hike again

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Awesome loop! I'd rate this as pretty challenging, and I'm very athletic; big inclines and steep descents, lots of hot exposed ridge. Peaceful and serene--SO quiet! Epic views from Canyon Trail and Indian Camp. Where it's not exposed ridge, it's lush, shady, gorgeous forest. Lots of poison oak!! I went from park HQ up Jackson Flats to Canyon, then down Indian Trail/Olmo Fire, and accidentally missed the branch for Doe Ridge Trail/Goat Hill Trail, but it was a lovely trek nonetheless, and Olmo eventually connects up with Goat Hill. Make sure you have a trail map because some of the turns aren't marked. Would be great for backpacking; two campgrounds along the way!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Great hike with a bit of everything. Shade and redwoods. Broad vistas. Ocean views.

Only downside is that parking is $10

Nice and easy trail. Somehow crowded at the beginning.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The map shows the trail head at the ranger kiosk. Temporary parking only. Proceed farther down to the first picnic area. Take the trail out the back of the picnic area and turn right. Then climb up a beautiful, but steep switch back. There's a view of the Pacific Ocean at the top of the ridge. The rest is a shaded fire road in the Redwoods.

Enjoyed the hike and quick climb in altitude.

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