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: -122.47849

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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

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

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 started 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 at the trail junction, I turned left and continued going uphill as the path climbed higher among Eucalyptus Trees.

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

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.

Eventually 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.

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

Under better weather, I could have been tempted to do the 3.5-mile Montara Mountain Loop, which 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. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Brooks_Falls_003_04202019 - Looking towards the parking spaces to the right of the visitor center at San Pedro Valley County Park
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 in Pacifica
Brooks_Falls_020_04202019 - Hiking beneath some impressive Eucalyptus Trees as I was climbing up towards the Brooks Creek Trail
Brooks_Falls_027_04202019 - The Old Trout Farm Trail continuing its climb up to the junction with the Brooks Creek Trail
Brooks_Falls_029_04202019 - Now on the Brooks Creek Trail as it climbed higher amongst the Eucalyptus Trees
Brooks_Falls_033_04202019 - The Brooks Creek Trail about to climb out of the forest canopy
Brooks_Falls_034_04202019 - The Brooks Creek Trail hugging the mountain slope as it was ascending higher into the low clouds and fog
Brooks_Falls_036_04202019 - Getting over this footbridge en route to the Brooks Falls Lookout
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
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_065_04202019 - Descending back into the forest canopy as I was returning from the Brooks Falls Lookout
Brooks_Falls_070_04202019 - Back amongst the Eucalyptus Trees as I took the Brooks Creek Trail back to the parking lot
Brooks_Falls_073_04202019 - Some of the wildflowers blooming alongside the Brooks Creek Trail
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_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_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 suggesting that I was going the right way to the Brooks Falls Lookout

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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. I then 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.

I then followed Linda Mar Blvd 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.

Brooks_Falls_002_04202019 - The San Pedro Valley County Park visitor center. The closest parking to the trailhead was to the right of this building near the restrooms
The San Pedro Valley County Park visitor center. The closest parking to the trailhead was to the right of this building near the restrooms

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.

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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Tagged with: pacifica, san pedro valley county park, san francisco, california, waterfall



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