Brooks Falls Loop
At only 2.5 miles, the Brooks Falls Loop is the perfect trail for an early morning or after-work trek. The Brooks Falls Loop is located inside the San Pedro Valley County Park in Pacifica. While the loop can be completed in either direction, to take full advantage of the coastal views I recommend starting at the Montara Mountain Trail and then connecting to the Brooks Creek Trail.
The star of the Brooks Falls Loop is a seasonal waterfall that cascades 175-feet down the side of Montara Mountain. The elusive waterfall can only be seen after several days of heavy rain, but this is a magical hike any time of year. The hike begins with a series of switchbacks through a thick Eucalyptus forest. As you continue to climb, the Eucalyptus thin and are replaced by large moss-covered Manzanita trees. Over the course of the hike you are treated to views of both the Pacific Ocean and the peaks of the northern range of the Santa Cruz Mountains. After continuing onto the Brooks Creek Trail, the trail narrows as you work your way back down the mountain, and eventually walk alongside Brooks Creek via the Trout Farm Trail, passing remnants of the days when the land housed a trout farm.
This historic park was thoughtfully designed for visitors. All paths are marked with detailed trail markers, there’s a visitors center that hosts weekend events, and several benches placed at prime viewing areas along the trails. The park also has several large picnic areas that can be reserved for private functions and a camping area for youth groups.
If you want a more challenging hike, this trail can be extended by 6 miles by continuing to the top of the Montara Mountain Trail before turning around to meet the Brooks Creek Trail. See the park map for a detailed view of the trails.
The trailhead is located next to the bathrooms, opposite from the visitor center.
From the trailhead take the trail on the right and follow the signs toward Montara Mountain. You will climb up the mountain via a series of nicely graded switchbacks. At mile 1.3 there will be a viewpoint with a bench and a trail marker for the Brooks Creek Trail. Follow the Brooks Creek Trail for about a half mile to the seasonal waterfall viewing area (a raised bench next to the trail). Continue to follow the Brooks Creek Trail back into the Eucalyptus grove and take the Trout Farm Trail junction. Follow Brooks Creek as you walk along Trout Farm Trail and return to the parking lot.
- Parking: Parking lot available at San Pedro Valley County Park
- Fee: $6
- Restrooms: Available at the trailhead
- Camping: The group campsite can be reserved for Youth Groups by calling 650-363-4021
Like all outdoor pursuits, hiking can be dangerous. It is up to you to assess your fitness level and education yourself about any potential dangers. While I try to regularly update these hiking guides, you should always research trail conditions before heading out.
Being prepared means arriving at the trailhead with water and some basic provisions. Each and every time I hit the trail I bring a backpack with more water than I think I need, a small first aid kit, and a snack. I also share my itinerary and plans with friends or family and I carry an InReach so I can summon help if needed. If you want to know what I carry in my pack during day hikes check out my blog post about essential gear for day hikers.
Stay safe, enjoy the trail, and soak up the magic of nature!
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