Brooks Falls Loop
At only 2.5 miles, the Brooks Falls Loop at San Pedro Valley County Park is the perfect spot for an early morning or after-work hike. The gradual incline and easy-to-follow route also make this a great hike for families with young children.
The Brooks Falls Loop is located inside the San Pedro Valley County Park in Pacifica. This hike combines the Montara Mountain Trail, the Brooks Creek Trail, and the Trout Farm Trail in a moderate 2.5- mile loop. While the hike can be completed in either direction, to take full advantage of the coastal views I recommend hiking the loop counterclockwise, starting at the Montara Mountain Trail and then connecting to the Brooks Creek Trail.
About San Pedro Valley County Park
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.
The park has several picnic tables that are first-come, first-served. Each picnic table has a small grill. This is the perfect park for a post-hike picnic or BBQ.
The trails in San Pedro Valley County Park are great for wildlife sightings. On my last hike on the Brooks Falls Loop I saw a deer, several rabbits, a flock of quail, and an owl.
Hiking Brooks Falls Loop
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.
Pick-up the trailhead to the right of the bathrooms next to the parking area. At trailhead marker #6 take the Montara Mountain trail to the right, toward McNee Ranch State Park and Montara Mountain Road. When the trail crosses a paved service road continue straight at trail marker #5 on the Montara Mountain Trail.
The hike begins with a series of switchbacks through a thick Eucalyptus forest. After a quarter-mile you’ll get your first views of the ocean as the hillside climbs above the city of Pacifica. After another half-mile (just before the .75 mile marker) the trail splits. Take the trail on the left if you’re in need of a break and want to enjoy the coastal views from the trailside bench. When you’re ready, rejoin the main trail and continue climbing.
As you reach the one-mile marker the trail turns inland and you can see the peak of Montara Mountain and the trails along Sweeney Ridge across the canyon. The Eucalyptus trees thin and are replaced by tunnels of large moss-covered Manzanita. Shortly after passing the 1.25-mile marker you’ll get your last views of the Pacific Ocean before making a left at trail marker #14 onto the Brooks Creek Trail. It is all downhill from here.
The Brooks Creek trail narrows as you work your way back down the mountain. The Brooks Creek Trail winds through groves of manzanita and madrone, and you get great views of the northern slope of Montara Mountain.
After about a quarter-mile listen for the sound of running water. You might be able to hear Brooks Creek below you and see Brooks Falls as it cascades 175-feet down the side of Montara Mountain. This elusive waterfall is only seen after a very heavy rain or during a very wet winter.
As you continue down the trail you’ll return to the Eucalyptus grove. Follow the arrow toward the visitor center. When the trail splits at marker #12 go right to take the Trout Farm Trail for a half-mile. The Trout Farm Trail follows Brooks Creek, passing several small Redwood trees and passing remnants of a trout farm that once occupied this land.
As you near the end of the trail the path widens and passes a picnic area before returning to the bathroom and parking lot.
Additional Hikes in the Area
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.
If you don’t have energy for a longer hike, but aren’t ready to leave the park check out the Plaskon Nature Trail. This short trail is only .10-mile. As you approach the parking area from the Trout Farm Trail, stay to the right and cross over the bridge to pick-up the Plaskon Nature Trail. This short path has signs with information about the plants and animals that call San Pedro Valley Park home. After the exploring the nature trail check out the library and visitor center (open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-4pm).
The trailhead is located next to the bathrooms, opposite from the visitor center.
From the bathroom take the trail on the right and follow the signs toward Montara Mountain. 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 the 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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