{short description of image} 1st Traveler's Choice

Half Moon Bay,

Sam McDonald County Park

Photo above by Jeff Gnass








Half Moon Bay


Año Nuevo

Purisima Creek Redwoods





Sam McDonald County Park, a unique and interesting 850-acre facility, is located approximately 3 miles west of La Honda on Pescadero Road. The park actually represents a contrast between two separate natural environments. The northwesterly half, approximately 400 acres between Pescadero Road and Highway 84, is principally a lush second growth redwood forest. The remaining 450-acre portion southeasterly of Pescadero Road is primarily open ridge with grassy knolls and patchy brush areas. From this ridge area, vistas of the Butano and Skyline Ridges as well as of the Pacific Ocean can be seen.

Much of the park is very steep, running from 400 feet along Alpine Creek to over 1,300 feet at the highest point on the Towne Ridge. This wide range of elevation accounts for some rather interesting natural features. In the lower elevations along moist ravines, many fern varieties are to be found, including the graceful five finger fern, sword fern, lady fern, gold back fern, polypody, and woodwardia ferns. Also to be found along the moister slopes in great abundance are trillium, redwood violet, red clintonia, and wild strawberry.

In the more shaded areas, carpets of redwood sorrel cover the redwood floor, and beautiful mosses and curious mushroom shapes appear throughout the park in glorious array during the rainy season. Even the troublesome poison oak plant is prevalent in many areas of the park, providing food and protection to the wildlife.

Trees common to the redwood forest include the coastal redwood, Douglas fir, various varieties of oak, and California bay trees. Trees found on the edge of the redwood forest in drier areas include madrone, California buckeye, and big leaf maple. The drier open areas are filled in the springtime with a colorful display of beautiful wildflowers. Some of the prevalent types include sticky monkey flower, wood rose, sun cup, and of course, California poppy.

Many animal types, although not often seen, make their home in the park. A few include deer, raccoon, fox, opossum, bobcat, woodpecker, jay, quail, garter and gopher snakes, the curious banana slug, and many more.

Several miles of hiking trails meander throughout the park. A limited number of picnic facilities are available near the headquarters' parking area on a non-reservation basis. Group hike-in campsites are available for organized groups on a reservations basis, youth groups having first priority. Call (650) 363-4021 for reservations for all youth or horse group overnights. Groups with reservations must contact the Ranger on duty at Memorial Park entrance gate for assignment to the area on the date of activity.

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