Top Hikes for Gorgeous Views in San Mateo County Parks

Being out in nature and out on the trail is fun, energizing and healing. When you come across a gorgeous view, you are rewarded even more- perhaps feeling like the king or queen of the mountain. Read on for some of our favorite hikes with views and let us know if we missed your favorite one!

1. San Bruno Mountain in Brisbane, Summit Loop Trail


The Summit Loop Trail starts and ends at the Trailhead Parking lot, which is located on the Southeast side of Guadalupe Canyon Parkway, and can be reached by car from the main park entrance. This hike will take you through diverse riparian habitat and coastal scrub and prairie grasslands. You will be rewarded with gorgeous views all the way to the summit at 1,314 feet. At this point, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean and down the Peninsula. In addition to the gorgeous views, you’ll spot wildflowers and birds throughout your hike.

Trail Notes: The weather on San Bruno Mountain can be unpredictable, so dress in layers, bring water and wear sunblock and/or a hat. Park map

View from the Summit Loop Trail on San Bruno Mountain

2. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, above Seal Cove


Park visitors can use the Bluff Trail which is accessed from the southeast corner of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve parking lot at the intersection of California Ave and North Lake St. You will cross a footbridge over San Vicente Creek and at the trail junction, choose the right path to walk through a cypress grove and towards the bluff top. You’ll enjoy lovely views of the Pacific Ocean, the tide pools and possibly some lounging harbor seals. The trail continues to the Seal Cove beach staircase at Cypress Street, from which park visitors can travel down to the beach where the southern tide pool area can be enjoyed.

Trail Notes: This is a short, easy hike. If you choose to visit the tide pools, please be aware of tide pool etiquette. Please do not touch or handle marine life. Do not bring your dogs or other pets to the tide pools. Park map

View from the bluffs above Seal Cove at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach

3. San Pedro Valley in Pacifica, Montara Mountain Trail at Brooks Creek Trail


Brooks Creek Trail begins in the Eucalyptus forest as a split from Old Trout Farm Trail. The ascent is moderately difficult, but the views are well worth it, starting with the northern slope of Montara Mountain and its lush valley below. During heavy rains, a waterfall can be observed here. Brooks Creek Trail ends when it intersects with Montara Mountain Trail. This view of Pacifica and Linda Mar beach is your reward.

Trail Notes: If you take Montara Mountain Trail to the left, you’ll exit San Pedro Valley Park and enter Montara Mountain and McNee Ranch State Park, which offers a butt-burner of a hike to its summit. Take Montara Mountain Trail to the right and you’ll complete a 2 mile loop back to the main parking lot at San Pedro Valley Park. Park map

View from the point where Montara Mountain Trail meets Brooks Creek Trail in San Pedro Valley, Pacifica

4. Pillar Point Bluff in Moss Beach, Jean Lauer Trail


These windswept bluffs offer visitors unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean. You can also view Pillar Point Harbor and, about a half-mile off shore, Mavericks surf break. The bluff top includes a section of the California Coastal Trail and is welcome to hikers, joggers, bicyclists and dog-walkers. The beach below the bluff is Ross’ Cove and is part of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. It is a marine protected area which affords it the highest level off protection. Dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Trail Notes: The Jean Lauer Trail is an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible (5% grade) dirt-packed trail. Park map

View from the bluffs at Pillar Point Bluff in Moss Beach, Jean Lauer Trail

5. Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve in Redwood City, Ridgeview Trail


Edgewood Park is beloved for its annual springtime display of colorful wildflowers, some of which are the host plants for the park’s unofficial mascot, the Bay checkerspot butterfly. Edgewood Park also offers stunning views, including this one which comes at the end of Ridgeview Trail. You’ll see Redwood City, San Francisco Bay and Mt. Diablo to the east.

Trail Notes: Parking can be difficult at the main parking lot of Edgewood Park, so park on Cañada Road and enter the park via the Clarkia Trailhead. From Clarkia Trail, make a left onto Sunset Trail and then a right on Ridgeview Trail to loop back around. Park map

Ridgeview Trail at Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve in Redwood City

6. Coyote Point in San Mateo, Merchant Marine Memorial Overlook


This overlook can be easily accessed from the Knoll Youth Area or by walking the Bluff Trail from the Promenade Trail. Views of San Francisco, Oakland and the bay delight park visitors. Watch planes land and take off from SFO or wind-surfers and kite-boarders skim the bay waters. This is a quiet and scenic refuge, but once upon a time it was quite bustling. In 1942, the Merchant Marine Academy was hastily constructed to provide necessary support during World War II. While those buildings are gone, a memorial was erected in 1974 as a tribute to the Merchant Marines who delivered badly needed supplies to troops during World War II.

Trail Notes: This is a great spot to bring a lunch and sit awhile with the views and history. Park map

View from the Merchant Marine Memorial overlook at Coyote Point

7. Memorial Park in Loma Mar, Mt. Ellen Summit Trail


For those seeking a more challenging hike, take Mt. Ellen Summit Trail to Pomponio Trail for a nice big loop. You’ll experience old-growth redwoods and Douglas firs and the Santa Cruz Mountains’ staple, the banana slug. On clear days, you’ll be rewarded with a view to the Pacific Ocean, but miles of magnificent forests can be viewed most days. You’ll forget you are so close to Silicon Valley!

Trail Notes: The self-guided Mt. Ellen Nature Trail offers a short and easy interpretive loop through the park’s northern area. Park map

View from Mt. Ellen Summit Trail at Memorial Park

8. Devil’s Slide near Pacifica off Highway 1


Visitors can access Devil’s Slide from either the north or south parking lots. Once part of Highway 1, Devil’s Slide got its name from the rock slides that sometimes prevented cars from passing through. Now that this section of Highway 1 is routed through the Tom Lantos Tunnels, pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy 1.3 miles of paved trail with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and even the Farallon Islands on clear days. There is much to gush over for geology and bird-watching buffs too!

Trail Notes: Dogs on leashes are welcome.

View from Highway 1 at Devil’s Slide near Pacifica

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