Hike Overview

Distance: 2.4 miles round trip

Elevation change: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Hiking time: 1.5 hour

Season: This Bay Area waterfall hike is accessible and enjoyable all year, but the best time to see seasonal waterfalls is in the winter.

Getting there: The parking lot closest to the trailhead is located off of Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35), right before Heacox Road, about 4 miles southwest of Old La Honda Road.

Parking lot address: While there is no official parking lot for this hike, there is room for a few cars to park at the trailhead here.


A shaded dirt trail at Coal Creek
The shaded paved road eventually gives way to a dirt trail.


View from a trail at Coal Creek
This trail has great views of Stanford’s Hoover Tower and the Bay beyond.

Hike Description:
In search of an epic Bay Area waterfall on the first sunny day after what felt like months of straight rain, I went to the Crazy Pete’s Trail in Coal Creek Open Space Preserve for a short walk. You can either start at the trailhead directly off of Skyline Boulevard, or from the trailhead at Alpine Road – I opted to start from Skyline.

The first third of the trail was downhill on a paved road into the trees, with large oak and firs that provided tons of shade on this sunny morning. Through the trees, you can also catch a distant view of the South Bay area. Look for the Stanford Hoover Tower as a landmark for perspective on the vista!

Once you reach a gate and an information kiosk with trail maps provided by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the paved road becomes a dirt (or in my case, mud) trail. If you plan on doing this hike after heavy rains, wear good boots and prepare to get a little muddy.

Keep left down Crazy Pete’s trail as the path winds through the trees. After just under 1 mile into the hike, you will cross a small bridge over a beautiful waterfall that cascades out of sight down the ridge. You can observe several tiers of pools here, and I spotted several salamanders in the water! Keep an eye out for any aquatic creatures.

After crossing the waterfall, continue for another few minutes until reaching another gate. This point is where the trail connects with Alpine Road trail, and is where I decided to turn back. If you’d like to make your hike a bit longer, you can continue onto Alpine Road trail all the way to Page Mill Road.

If you turn around at this point, you retrace your steps back up the trail to the first gate. The wide path allows for a leisurely walk, and as you come back up the few hundred feet of elevation you once again see views of the South Bay through the trees to your right. This trail was a great short hike to go chasing a Bay Area waterfall, and the sweeping vistas were an added bonus!


Throughout the 1980s, POST helped protect approximately 350 acres of Coal Creek Open Space Preserve, now managed by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

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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