Hike to A Waterfall at Coal Creek

Distance: 3.0 miles

Elevation gain: 900 ft

Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking time: 3-4 hours

Season: This hike is accessible and enjoyable all year.

Getting there: This hike starts at the Skyline Blvd Vista Point parking lot. From Highway 84, head south on Highway 35 for 6 miles. The parking lot will be on your left.

Parking lot address: Click here

Coal Creek Open Space Preserve - POST
My boyfriend and I brought his dog, Crash, out for this hike to work off his little dog belly. Like many other dogs at the Thanksgiving table, he’ll definitely be waiting for someone to drop a piece of turkey or two.
Coal Creek Open Space Preserve - POST
It’s always nice to get out in our open spaces. But I especially like this section of trail as it winds through the oak forest.

Hike Description: Feel the need to work off those extra Thanksgiving calories? This hike at Coal Creek Open Space Preserve is a moderate 3-mile out-and-back hike with views of the whole Bay Area. And not only is this a healthy hike for you and your family, but it’s dog-friendly too.

On your way to the trailhead, be a little extra cautious. The roads to this trailhead will likely be busy this weekend with road cyclists enjoying the holiday, so take your time and share the road.

From the parking lot, follow the trail north along Skyline Blvd before turning right onto the Clouds Rest Road. This gravel road eventually leads to a junction with the Clouds Rest and Meadows Trail. You can go either way to access the Alpine Trail. I had visited this trail after a somewhat rainy week and the Meadows Trail was pretty muddy so we turned around to follow the Cloud Rests Trail. But either way works so you can choose.

Once you reach the Alpine Trail turn left. There’s a pretty great waterfall right after you turn left on to the Crazy Pete’s Trail (see map below). Plan to stop there for some pictures and a water break.

You’ll be walking downhill for the first half of this hike. To get back to your car you’ve got some elevation to climb and some calories to burn. But, hey, that was the point of a post-Thanksgiving hike, right?

To keep you motivated you’ll enjoy views of the entire Bay Area. And there are so many great places to do a family photo so keep those cameras ready.

A fun activity only three minutes down the road from this trailhead is cutting your own Christmas tree at Skyline Ranch Christmas Tree Farm! They open until 4:30 PM every day after Thanksgiving and provide you with all the materials you need to cut down your own Christmas tree – another way to burn off those extra Thanksgiving calories.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Want some other suggestions on great hikes in our open spaces? Try our hikes page.


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

More on Our Website

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

Scroll to top