Located at northern terminus of the Santa Cruz Mountains, San Bruno State Park is the one of the last places to experience the peninsula’s native habitat before human development. Views of the Bay Area abound.
Driving along Hwy 101, it’s hard to miss the prominent ridgeline to the west; it’s a mountainous island bordered by the cities of Brisbane, South San Francisco, Colma and Daly City.
What Makes It Great
Despite its visibility and proximity to the surrounding urbanization, few folks actually know of the wilderness preserve situated here. As you would expect, San Bruno State Park barely missed becoming developed, and let’s be grateful because it provides a window into what San Francisco looked like 300 years ago. Spanning over 2,000 acres, it offers shelter to several rare plant and butterfly species, some that are found exclusively on this mountain (like the San Bruno manzanita and the San Bruno elfin butterfly). Tread carefully because only a few areas of such great biodiversity remain in the world (aka please stay on the trails and leave your pup at home). In addition to the exceptional wildlife, 360-degree views are possible from the 1,314 ft summit of San Bruno Mountain: the San Francisco city skyline and Marin Headlands to the north; Daly City and Ocean Beach to the west; SFO airport, the San Mateo Bridge, and the peninsula to the south; Oakland, Mount Diablo and the bay to the east. With such exposure come winds from the Pacific, the San Francisco Bay and the East Bay so pack a windbreaker if you plan to summit or traverse the ridge! Trail runners and those seeking a longer trek will find the Ridge Trail scenic and rewarding (5.2 out and back from the top of San Bruno Mountain). If you’re hiking with kids, the Bog Trail is a great 0.8 mi option when it hasn’t rained. Plentiful hiking trails meander throughout the park’s boundaries, and it’s easy to link up sections of different trails. Take a look at the free online map and plan your visit!
Who is Going to Love It
Families with children, trail runners, hikers, bird-watchers, nature enthusiasts, and city dwellers who would like to picnic and play outside for the day should pay this lovely park a visit.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Highway 101, take exit 429B toward Cow Palace/Third Street. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Bayshore Boulevard S and merge onto Bayshore Blvd. Turn right/west on Guadalupe Canyon Parkway toward the Mountain and go to the park entrance. The green meadow near to the parking lot is called The Saddle and serves as a great area for playing volleyball/frisbee/bocce ball. If it’s a picnic you’re after, tables, barbecue pits, drinking water and restrooms are all closeby. The most popular starting points for hikes are park's entrance and Radio Road at the mountain's summit, however both Crocker Road and Charter Street provide good trail access as well.