Portola Redwoods State Park
At Portola Redwoods State Park, silence and tranquility rule. The road leading to its 2,800 acres drops from a ridge top into a deeply shaded redwood forest, offering a hushed getaway from the suburban bustle of nearby Silicon Valley and the South Bay. Eighteen miles of trails follow meandering creeks, where moisture-loving coast redwoods stand tall among ferns and huckleberries. Waterfalls on Fall and Pescadero creeks tumble down mossy banks over rocks and woody debris.
The park is open year round for hiking, picnicking and other day uses. The campground is open April through October. The park is a 1.5- to 2-hour drive from most Bay Area locations. Please come prepared: there’s no gasoline or food available at or near the park.
The park is located at 9000 Portola State Park Road, La Honda. From San Jose and Santa Cruz take Highway 9 to Highway 35. Drive north on Highway 35 and turn left on Alpine Road. Take Alpine Road to Portola State Park Road.
From the Peninsula, take Highway 280 to Highway 84. Take Highway 84 west to Highway 35. Drive south on Highway 35 and turn right on Alpine Road. Take Alpine Road to Portola State Park Road.
Check in at the park office, which is located 1 mile inside the park on the main road. The road dead ends at Portola. Use low gear on Alpine and Portola State Park roads as they are steep and winding.
Things to doHiking Trails
Eighteen miles of hiking trails range from easy to strenuous. The easy 0.75-mile Sequoia Nature Trail begins near Park Headquarters and crosses Pescadero Creek. The half-mile Old Tree Trail is also considered an easy hike. The moderate three-mile Slate Creek Trail winds through redwoods to the Page Mill site. For a strenuous 13-mile round-trip journey, Bear Creek Trail leads to Peters Creek Trail and its magnificent 1.3-mile loop through ancient old-growth redwoods.Picnic Areas
To reserve the 75-person Group Picnic Area for a wedding or special event, call (831) 335-3455.
The Visitor Center is open on weekends year round and on weekdays as staffing permits. With its couches and fireplace, the Visitor Center feels like a wilderness lodge. It is wheelchair accessible and features interpretive and educational displays with a diorama and a sales area.
Fees and Passes
Parking is $10 and supports the park. Annual State Parks passes also are available to purchase at the entrance kiosk.
- Picnic areas
- Visitor Center
- Interpretive programs
- Accessibility: One reservable campsite, the visitor center, restrooms and one picnic site are accessible.
Portola Redwoods offers 55 regular campsites, four group camps and four hike and bike sites on a seasonal basis. Campsites are $35 per night. The hike and bike sites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis from April 1 to May 21, and Sept. 2 through Nov. 30. These sites may be reserved seven months in advance for May 22 through Sept. 1. Reservations are needed for weekends and holidays. Limit 8 people per site. Reservations can be made through Reserve America and are available from April 1 to Oct. 31 by calling 800-444-7275 or go online.
There are no RV hook-ups; maximum length is 21 feet for trailers and 24 feet for motor homes.
Slate Creek Trail Camp, a backpacking camp with six sites, is open April 1 to Nov. 30. Limit six people per site; no fires but stoves are OK; carry water. Cost is $15 per night plus $8 reservation fee. Reservations required; call (831) 338-8861.
There are four Group Camps at Portola: Ravine Group Camp: 25 people/six car limit, Hillside Group Camp: 50 people/12 car limit, Point Group Camp: 50 people/12 car limit, Circle Group Camp: 50 people/12 car limit, Ravine and Hillside are near each other; Circle and Point are near each other.
All campgrounds are closed Dec. 1 to March 31.
Native people have lived in the vicinity of Portola Redwoods State Park for thousands of years. Portola Redwoods State Park is named for the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá. In 1769, the Portolá expedition traveled overland along the San Mateo coast to the San Francisco Bay, without actually reaching this spot.
The first settler in this area, Danish immigrant Christian Iverson, built a cabin along Pescadero Creek in the 1860s and split redwood shakes for a living. In 1889, Iverson sold his property to William Page, a successful lumberman. Page ran a shingle mill just east of the present day Slate Creek Trail Camp. In 1924, the Masonic Lodge’s Islam Shrine acquired the property for a summer retreat. They built cabins, kitchens, a stage and a recreation hall, which is the present-day Visitor Center. Because membership had dropped by 1945, the lodge sold the property to the State of California to create a new state park.
- Campgrounds are “Crumb Clean.” Visitors are required to watch this short video about the impact your food has on park wildlife.
- Dogs are allowed on leashes no longer than 6 feet. They are permitted only in campsites, picnic areas, paved roads and the Upper and Lower Escape Roads.
- No fishing is allowed in the park.
- Trails are closed to bikes, horses and dogs.
- Firewood may be purchased in the park. Do not gather firewood.