About Brooks Falls
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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