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El Corte de Madera Creek Loop Information

A strenuous, shaded hike that takes you to a massive sandstone formation, a vista overlooking the Santa Cruz Mountains and a towering old growth redwood.

Watch for:

When the trail is wet, look for the California slender salamander, banana slug and California newt

Hiking Details for El Corte de Madera Creek Loop

Distance: 8.8 mile loop

Elevation change: 2100′ elevation gain

Hiking time: 5-6 hours

Trail surface: Packed dirt, mostly shaded

Best Season: Year round

Managing agency: Midpeninsula Regional Open Space

Parking lot location: Click here for directions

Overview: This 8-mile loop hike takes you through a mixed conifer forest, past a giant sandstone boulder, along beautiful vistas and a massive old-growth redwood.

From the Skeggs Point parking area take the El Corte de Madera Creek Trail, turning left onto the Tafoni Trail. Don’t miss the quick detour to see the Tafoni Sandstone Formation, and then make a sharp right turn onto the Fir Trail. Another short detour on your right takes you to a Vista Point; then continue on Fir Trail. Turn right on Methuselah Trail, and then left on Giant Salamander Trail. Make a sharp left onto Timberview trail (take the furthest left option). Left on Manzanita Trail, before turning right onto Fir Trail to head back to the parking lot.

Though the trail sounds complicated, it’s well worth the effort for the unique features you’ll find on it. After an easy start downhill, the trail climbs back up towards the ridgeline – cutting through huge redwood and Douglas fir stands. Then the trail flattens out, which is when you know that you’re getting close to the gigantic sandstone boulder. It’s well worth the extra .2 mile detour to see this massive sandstone formation with its unique swiss-cheese like indentations.

Further down the trail at Vista Point, you might stop at the picnic table for a snack. Then you’ll meander through dense coastal forest and eventually drop back down to the headwaters of San Gregorio Creek — prime habitat for endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout.

Towards the very end of this hike you’ll be right near the giant Methuselah Tree, which is estimated to be over 1800 years old. It’s right of Skyline Boulevard, so you can also visit on your way home if you’re too tired to make the detour.

Directions to El Corte de Madera Creek Loop

From 280, head west on Hwy 84. Right on Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35). Park at the Skeggs Point parking area on the right hand side.

More About El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve

El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve is home to more than 36 miles of multi-use trail, popular with bicyclists, horseback riders, and hikers alike. You’ll find redwood forests, creekside trails, coastal and forest views, and unique features such as a giant sandstone formation and a nearly 2000 year old tree.

El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve is located in the upper headwaters of the San Gregorio Creek Watershed, which provides critical habitat for endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout. To help protect and restore the watershed, the District created the Watershed Protection Program. Its goal is to reduce erosion and sedimentation at the Preserve, while still allowing visitors to enjoy it year round.

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