Brooks Falls

Pacifica / San Pedro Valley County Park, California, USA

About Brooks Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: about 1 hour

Date first visited: 2019-04-20
Date last visited: 2019-04-20

Waterfall Latitude: 37.56931
Waterfall Longitude: -122.47827

Brooks Falls was really my waterfalling excuse to get in an early morning hike around the Pacifica area before returning to San Francisco for some city touring.

For a waterfall this close to the city by the bay, it sports impressive dimensions in terms of height at 175ft over three drops.

Brooks_Falls_053_04202019 - Brooks Falls seen through the fog and drizzle/rain
Brooks Falls seen through the fog and drizzle/rain

However, as you can see from the photo above, it’s a real wispy waterfall that leaves a lot to be desired.

Indeed, in order to even see this waterfall flow, you’d need some good timing (shortly after some rains have fallen) as well as a little luck with the weather as fog can obscure the distant views.

Nonetheless, when it comes to waterfalls in the Bay Area, size doesn’t matter as much as the coastal scenery, the coastal forests, and the wildflowers.

And San Pedro Valley Park can certainly deliver all of those things.

Hiking to the Brooks Falls Lookout

Brooks_Falls_016_04202019 - Following the Old Trout Farm Trail along the base of the canyon or valley
Following the Old Trout Farm Trail along the base of the canyon or valley

I did this hike as a short loop that started and ended at the San Pedro Valley County Park visitor center (see directions below).

I began by hiking south along the Old Trout Farm Trail, which passed a few picnic tables as well as some impressively tall trees as the canyon started closing in.

The trail then started climbing as it made a bend towards the north before reaching a trail junction at about a half-mile from the start.

At this junction, I could go right and return to the parking lot and visitor center to complete the mile-long loop.

Brooks_Falls_027_04202019 - The Old Trout Farm Trail continued its climb up to the junction with the Brooks Creek Trail
The Old Trout Farm Trail continued its climb up to the junction with the Brooks Creek Trail

However, I waited to do that as I still hadn’t seen Brooks Falls yet.

So turning left at this trail junction, I continued going uphill as the path climbed higher among Eucalyptus Trees.

Eventually, the climb would go high enough to rise above the tops of the Eucalyptus Trees, then the trail would skirt the mountainous slope as it continued to go higher.

Then, after another 0.3 miles of climbing beyond the trail junction, I finally reached a clearing with a bench and a view towards the thin Brooks Falls.

Brooks_Falls_033_04202019 - On the Brooks Creek Trail as it continues to climb higher above the forest canopy
On the Brooks Creek Trail as it continues to climb higher above the forest canopy

During my visit, I had to contend with a combination of fog and heavy drizzle or rain.

It wasn’t the ideal conditions to experience this trail nor the waterfall, but I at least got to see it nonetheless.

I then returned the way I came to complete the 1.6-mile loop hike.

Under better weather, I could have been tempted to do the 3.5-mile Montara Mountain Loop.

Brooks_Falls_049_04202019 - The bench at the Brooks Falls Lookout
The bench at the Brooks Falls Lookout

That would have taken me even higher than the Brooks Falls Lookout while providing views towards the Pacific Ocean and Pacifica Beach to the west.

Authorities

Brooks Falls resides in the San Pedro Valley County Park near Pacifica in San Mateo County, California. It is administered by the County of San Mateo Parks Department. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Brooks_Falls_008_04202019 - Walking on the Old Trout Farm Trail as I did the loop in a clockwise manner in pursuit of Brooks Falls
Brooks_Falls_013_04202019 - Even though the weather was forecasted to be benign throughout much of the San Francisco Bay Area, it was actually raining (or at least drizzling hard) on the morning of my hike to Brooks Falls in Pacifica in April 2019
Brooks_Falls_020_04202019 - Hiking beneath some impressive Eucalyptus Trees as I was climbing up towards the Brooks Creek Trail
Brooks_Falls_029_04202019 - Now on the Brooks Creek Trail as it climbed higher amongst the Eucalyptus Trees
Brooks_Falls_032_04202019 - Approaching the end of the grove of Eucalyptus Trees as the trail continued to climb even higher towards the Brooks Falls Lookout
Brooks_Falls_034_04202019 - The Brooks Creek Trail hugging the mountain slope as it was ascending higher into the low clouds and fog en route to the Brooks Falls Lookout
Brooks_Falls_036_04202019 - Getting over this footbridge en route to the Brooks Falls Lookout as the trail continued its climb
Brooks_Falls_059_04202019 - A potentially slippery part of the Brooks Creek Trail given the rain and drizzle from this morning
Brooks_Falls_037_04202019 - Finally arriving at the Brooks Creek Lookout though the drizzle and the low clouds or fog weren't do me any favors during my morning hike in April 2019
Brooks_Falls_050_04202019 - This hazy view of Brooks Falls was probably the best I could do given the circumstances
Brooks_Falls_045_04202019 - Focused on the most visible parts of the Brooks Falls as its uppermost tiers were obscured by low clouds
Brooks_Falls_047_04202019 - Zoomed out contextual look at the Brooks Falls showing hard-to-see thin upper tiers giving me a sense that this was a taller waterfall when it has enough volume to be seen from the Brooks Falls Lookout
Brooks_Falls_054_04202019 - Another zoomed out contextual look at Brooks Falls being very hard to see through the foggy morning mist during my April 2019 visit
Brooks_Falls_063_04202019 - Looking back at some hikers who also braved the fairly heavy drizzle on the Brooks Creek Trail as they continued beyond the Brooks Falls Lookout
Brooks_Falls_065_04202019 - Descending back into the forest canopy as I was returning from the Brooks Falls Lookout
Brooks_Falls_067_04202019 - Given the amount of drizzle that had fallen during my hike to the Brooks Falls Lookout, the descent turned out to be a little more slippery than I had anticipated
Brooks_Falls_069_04202019 - Back within the canopy from the grove of Eucalyptus Trees on my return hike from the Brooks Falls Lookout
Brooks_Falls_070_04202019 - Continuing amongst the Eucalyptus Trees as I took the Brooks Creek Trail back to the parking lot and the trees actually provided some degree of shelter from the drizzle
Brooks_Falls_073_04202019 - Some of the wildflowers blooming alongside the Brooks Creek Trail
Brooks_Falls_075_04202019 - Continuing with the return hike as I now headed on the Brooks Creek Trail back to the parking lot to complete the short loop
Brooks_Falls_078_04202019 - With all this moisture from this morning's rain or drizzle, I noticed a handful of banana slugs on the Brooks Creek Trail
Brooks_Falls_079_04202019 - Context of the banana slug going across the Brooks Creek Trail during my morning hike in April 2019
Brooks_Falls_081_04202019 - Looking down towards the Old Trout Farm Trail that I had taken earlier this morning
Brooks_Falls_084_04202019 - Context of the Brooks Creek Trail with picnic tables down below
Brooks_Falls_088_04202019 - Looking across the picnic area that I had passed through at the start of the hike to the Brooks Falls Lookout from the Brooks Creek Trail
Brooks_Falls_092_04202019 - Had I done the loop in a counterclockwise manner, I would have seen these signs, which would have made it more obvious which way I was supposed to go.  The way that I did this trail, I had no signage to suggest that I was going the right way to the Brooks Falls Lookout

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


Brooks Falls was near the town of Pacifica.

I’ll describe the route that I took from the I-80 west in San Francisco just west of the Oakland Bay Bridge.

I had to get through the maze of city streets to even reach the I-80 from Fisherman’s Wharf, and I’ll spare those details in this write-up.

Once on the I-80 west, I then took it for about 3.8 miles to its merger with the I-280 west.

Then, I followed the I-280 west for roughly 6 miles before its exit to the Hwy 1.

Next, I followed the Hwy 1 for about 7 miles before turning left onto Linda Mar Blvd.

Brooks_Falls_002_04202019 - The San Pedro Valley County Park visitor center
The San Pedro Valley County Park visitor center

Once on Linda Mar Blvd, I then followed this street for about 2 miles to a three-way intersection with Oddstad Blvd.

I turned right then took the next left to enter San Pedro Valley County Park.

Finally, I parked closest to the trail, which was to the right of the visitor center near the restroom facility.

Overall, this drive took me about 45 minutes in free-flowing traffic.

Brooks_Falls_003_04202019 - The San Pedro Valley County Park visitor center parking lot looking towards the side closest to the trailhead near the restrooms up ahead
The San Pedro Valley County Park visitor center parking lot looking towards the side closest to the trailhead near the restrooms up ahead

There was also a $6 vehicle entry fee for this park as of my visit in April 2019.

For geographical context, San Francisco is 15 miles (roughly 30 minutes drive depending on traffic) north of Pacifica, 11 miles (over 30 minutes drive) west of Oakland, 55 miles (over an hour drive) north of San Jose, 52 miles (about 90 minutes drive) south of Napa, 96 miles (over 2 hours drive) south of Sacramento, and 382 miles (6 hours drive) north of Los Angeles.

Left to right sweep of the canyon before zooming in on Brooks Falls through the clouds and the rain

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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