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Pescadero Creek

Pescadero Creek is a San Mateo county park deep in the redwood forest.  The trails are between Portola Redwoods State Park and Wurr Road.  Pescadero Creek is quiet and very relaxing.  The forest is beautiful and you may well be the only person out there because it is a bit of a trek from anywhere you are likely to be coming from.  Routes can be made for beginners to intermediate riders, but there is nothing too technical here.

Park: Pescadero Creek County Park (San Mateo County)
Date: Multiple
Distance: 21.1 miles
Ride Time: 2:14
Total Ascent: 2,541 feet
Map: Official trail map
Overall Rating: 7

Pescadero Creek County Park is part of a set of San Mateo county parks in the southern part of the county. Other nearby parks include Memorial, Sam McDonald and Heritage Grove county parks and Portola Redwoods State Park. These parks have a combined area of 8,020 acres, with Pescadero Creek being the largest at 5,070 acres. Most of this area is second growth redwood forest on land purchased from the Santa Cruz Lumber Company. The lumber company still owns adjacent lands. Before the county acquired the land in 1971, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed creating a large dam that would have flooded this entire area up to Portola State Park. Fortunately for us, the plan was cancelled after vocal local opposition. More information is available on the park web site.

The main mountain bike route through Pescadero Creek is Old Haul Road, a former rail route that was used to haul felled trees to the nearby lumber mill. Old Haul can be accessed via the Hoffman Creek Trailhead off of Wurr Road or via the service road in Portola Redwoods.

I started riding southeast on Old Haul. This is a fireroad width route through the forest. Since it was a rail route, it means that the grades are not too steep. I was able to maintain a pretty good speed as I zipped through the forest. I noted several side trails as I rode for investigation on the way back. I went past the Iverson Trail junction that leads into Portola Redwoods State Park and rode to the end of Old Haul. The road actually continues, but it is blocked by a gate at a bridge about a mile past the Iverson junction. The construction of the bridge is just being completed (there is still lumber on the ground). A sign on the gate indicates it is owned by the Santa Cruz Lumber Company, but it was interesting that the lumber was on the state park side of the gate while the bridge was beyond the gate.

Not wanting to cause problems, I headed back. I have been through Portola Redwoods before (see the Saratoga to Pescadero ride report), so I skipped it this time. I took a right onto Bridge Trail and headed down to a bridge that crosses the creek and goes up the other side. I got to a section of a paved road with a sign that it was headed to the jail and that guns, knives, alcohol, drugs, etc. where strictly prohibited (it doesn't sound like they have any fun there!). I decided there were better things to do than visit the jail, so I backtracked slightly and headed up Tarwater Trail (note: this is not the trail to the Tarwater Trail Camp trail that was passed on the left side of Bridge bikes permitted there). Tarwater makes a loop, heading up the hill through the forest and into the grass lands before reaching its summit and heading down a delightful single track. Once back on Tarwater, I took the short Snag Trail through the forest back to Old Haul.

I continued back on Old Haul, passing some side trails that prohibit bikes. I veered right at a "Y" intersection and headed down Towne Fire Road. This heads down to a flat spot that crosses Pescadero Creek before heading up the other side. The creek is shallow here, but you may get your feet wet (not a big deal). I headed up to the Shaw Flat Trail Camp which had a nice view across the valley to the forested mountainside opposite me. I continued up until I got to a service road (Pete Town Trail?) with another sign about the jail, where I turned around in the interest of time. I roughly retraced my steps out to Old Haul and back to the trailhead.  As a side note, the jail was closed for quite a while but I think it has re-opened.  I doubt they appreciate unexpected visitors.

This was a very nice ride. I was the only person on the trail the entire time. Old Haul as scenic, smooth and fast. Tarwater and Towne were very nice excursions off of the beaten path. I should have taken more pictures, but I was having too much fun just riding. As the road conditions are excellant, the hills are not too steep and the forest is beautiful, it is a good place to bring less experienced riders.


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