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Brooks Falls

San Pedro Valley Park

Brooks Falls Links:

January 3rd, 2004

3.0 miles
500 vertical feet
Total Time: 1:44

Rating: 5/10

Directions: Take Highway 1 south to Pacifica. Turn left onto Lima Mar Boulevard. Follow it to the T intersection, then turn right onto Oddstad Boulevard. Immediately turn left into the park entrance. There is a $5 parking fee (as of 2004).   View Driving Map


I hadn't done any hikes since July 4th weekend. After a couple weeks of lots of rain, the skies cleared for the weekend and I decided this would be a great time to hike to seasonal Brooks Falls. It would also be the very first hike with my 3-month old son, Nathan.

As you turn onto Linda Mar Boulevard, you'll pass a shopping center, and then go through a residential section before reaching the park. That, combined with the sound of traffic for some of the hike, never gives you the feeling that you're very far from civilization. That's part of the reason I only give this hike a 5 rating.

We started off on the Brooks Falls Overlook trail around 2pm. The trail is singletrack through forest, including the easily-recognizable eucalyptus. Below you to the left is the apparently paved Old Trout Farm Trail, which parallels the trail you're on for about 3/4 of a mile. Also to the left you can hear the pleasant sounds of Brooks Creek.

We climbed up the muddy trail, which climbs gently. In case you're wondering, Jean carried Nathan in a Baby Bjorn in front of her, while I carried everything else (water, food, first aid, and my entire package of photography gear). I figure once he's strong enough to go in the back, then I'll be the one carrying him. That should be fun!

For those who aren't in physical shape to do more difficult hikes, this is probably the perfect hike for at least one reason -- there seems to be a bench every 10 minutes on this hike. We passed one bench just before taking the right fork at a trail intersection. The left fork takes you down to the Old Trout Farm Trail, so stay right.

Brooks Falls

After less than 45 minutes, we came to a bench in a clearing with views of Brooks Falls to the left. The falls drop in 3 tiers, 175 feet. They are nicely set against a backdrop of a comparatively huge mountain face. It completely reminded me of the descent from Mackinnon Pass on the Milford Track in New Zealand, though it seemed like a sorry imitation. On the other hand, I was dry now. If you're a waterfall person, you might like Brooks Falls. I'm not a big waterfall person, though...I prefer smaller falls which you can get up close and personal to, and the closest you'll get to Brooks Falls is about 1000 feet away.

After stopping for pictures (and feeding Nathan on the bench there), we continued on up the trail. One suggestion: if you want to do this hike, I suggest going in the morning. In the afternoon, the sun goes below the mountains, and the falls are in shade. As we continued up the trail, we climbed above the mountain shade and into the sunlight, but we could no longer see the falls. We did have an unexpected treat, running into a rabbit on the trail. It was one of the most unperturbed rabbits I've ever encountered on a hike. Usually they're very skittish, but this one didn't seem to mind us getting as close as about 10 feet before it ran into the bushes.

Rabbit on the trail

After our rabbit encounter, we reached the Montara Mountain Trail. There's a bench here with nice views of Pacifica and the ocean beyond it. The trail heads up 2 miles to the top of Montara Mountain, which I did on a previous hike from the opposite direction. On this hike, however, we headed down the trail (to the right) to complete a loop hike.

View of Pacifica and the ocean

The trail now winds its way gently downhill, with views of the city to the left, along with the distant sound of traffic. There's really not much to this part of the hike (expect more benches), and you'll probably find yourself zipping down the hill back to your car, which is what we did.


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