When people head outside, they don’t always want to take a 10-mile hike. Heck, you might not want to take a one-mile hike. That’s ok; POST has you covered! Many Bay Area open spaces offer picnic tables so you can get outside with your family while having a relaxing meal and enjoying the scenery. Of course, if you want to hike, that’s always an option.

Most of these picnic spots are good for the whole family, including those with mobility challenges. And these are just a few examples. For additional options, you can check out the websites of local agencies who manage open spaces (state or county parks, for example) to find out which ones have picnic areas. Easy!

Now, let’s get you started with a few options with great spots to eat outdoors!

Four Bay Area Picnicking Destinations

Edgewood Park and Nature Preserve

10 Old Stagecoach Rd, Redwood City

This park is a favorite during wildflower season but is beautiful year-round. At the intersection of Highway 280 and Edgewood Road in Redwood City, it covers 467 acres with hiking and equestrian trails over rolling oak woodland and chaparral hillsides. There are about 35 parking spots plus two disabled spots on site, but the lots can fill up quickly on nice days. There is unofficial parking along the road when that happens, but be careful not to block anyone’s driveway.

The outdoor eating area has about 18 scattered tables, BBQs, and ADA-accessible restrooms. Neither outside BBQs nor pets are allowed, so you’ll need to leave Fido and your portable grill at home. It’s near the main entrance and is drop-in only. To reach it, you can either walk in over a wooden footbridge and up a flat trail with a moderate incline and some steps or drive in. You can’t pull over any longer than it takes to offload people and/or food since you’ll be in a fire lane, but you can drive back down to the main lot to park. The unpaved road to the picnic area is just to the right of the trail. There is also a staffed education center near the parking lot (check the website for times) with accessible restrooms that are available when it is open.

If you want to take a hike before or after your picnic, there is a self-guided hiking tour, or you can wander the trails on your own. Free guided wildflower hikes are available in spring through the Friends of Edgewood. I took one and enjoyed the information the docent provided and the variety of flowers that grow on our serpentine soils.

Stevens Creek County Park

11401 Stevens Canyon Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

This 1,077-acre park is centered on Stevens Creek and has an 82-acre reservoir where you can fish with a license. Motorboats, swimming, and dogs are not allowed. Note that there is another park, Upper Stevens Creek County Park, that does not have picnic tables, so be sure you go to the right one! This park charges a $6 per car entry fee (credit/debit card only).

Opportunities include:

  • First-come, first-served shaded picnic tables at the main entrance, Lakeshore parking area, and two places at the southern end of the park (map link is at the bottom of their page). Each has multiple tables and parking, and most have restrooms, some wheelchair accessible. For people with mobility issues, I suggest the Lakeshore or Cooley picnic areas. Both are atop packed dirt, and access is flatter.
  • Two group picnic areas that you can reserve in advance for a fee
  • An archery course
  • Horse rentals at Garrod Farms
  • Nine miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails
  • Birding
  • Access for leashed dogs in picnic areas and on some trails but not in the reservoir

Check the park’s website for picnicking rules and other information.

NOTE: The park entrance and picnic areas have no signage before the turns. Stay alert, I drove by all of them the first time I went. Also, the Lakeshore parking area has a larger parking lot you can’t see from the road; drive in and it is down and to the left.

Sierra Azul Preserve and Mt. Umunhum

Mt Umunhum Rd, San Jose, CA 95120

The 3,486-foot Mt. Umunhum’s name, which means “resting place for the hummingbird,” has roots in at least five different Ohlone languages. Part of the Sierra Azul Preserve, Mt. Umunhum opened to the public in 2017 after the removal of a military installation. The summit is a culturally significant site for the Muwekma Ohlone, Tamien Nation, and Amah Mutsun Tribal Band as well as other Indigenous people. On a clear day, you can see as far as Marin, Mt. Diablo, and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Although it is an option, you don’t have to hike to the summit. Instead, you can drive to the summit parking area at the top of Mt. Umunhum Road, about 5.3 miles past the Hicks Road intersection. It has 50 spots, including three ADA spaces, and restrooms, but it can get crowded on clear days. An additional small ADA parking lot up the road also serves as a turnaround or a place to drop off folks who can’t walk up the 159 steps to the summit.

The picnic area is across the road from the parking lot. It has two tables with wheelchair spaces and is opposite a large grassy area. The summit has numerous interesting informational signs, a building that is a Cold War relic, and stunning views of the Santa Clara Valley.

Fires, dogs, and horses are prohibited, although both animals are allowed on some of Sierra Azul’s 26 miles of trails. This is also a good birdwatching spot, so bring your binoculars. There’s even a great Mount Umunhum audio tour, but download it before you go since cell service is limited in the area.

Máyyan ‘Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve

9611 Malech Rd., Morgan Hill, CA 95037

Pronounced My-yahn Oiy-yahkmah, this preserve’s name translates to “Coyote Ridge” in the Chochenyo language stewarded by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. It opened in August 2023 and is considered a biodiversity hot spot due to its rare, sensitive serpentine grasslands where endangered plants and animals reside. Because of this, pets are not allowed at the preserve.

Coyote Ridge boasts three miles of exposed trails. The picnic area is on the accessible Máyyan Wáayi Overlook Trail under a shade structure to the right side of the parking lot. Both picnic tables have accessible wheelchair spots. From the picnic area, there is a short trail up to an overlook across the valley with an accessible trail on one side and a few steps on the other. The Overlook Trail is open every day. There are also shaded benches to the left of the parking lot off a short, accessible trail.

If you want to hike on any trails that go into the preserve, acquiring the required Butterfly Pass online signals your agreement to follow the rules and regulations in the habitat protection area. During wildflower season, from March through May, weekend access is limited to guided walks. Since it is a sensitive area, rain often closes the trails, so check the website if it has rained recently.

One last note: There is a restroom, but no drinkable water or trash cans are available (trash cans attract scavengers). Please plan ahead and bring enough for your group to drink and take all of your trash home with you. Also, keep in mind that cell service is reliable only in the Central Gathering Area.

Happy Picnicking!

Okay, those options should get you started. Pack your picnic basket and head out to enjoy some of our local beauty! Whether you decide to combine your meal with a hike or not, you’ll have a great time in the great outdoors.

About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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