Memorial Park

The oldest section of the sprawling Pescadero Creek Park Complex, Memorial Park offers camping, picnicking, day hiking and the chance to marvel at old-growth redwood forest.

Memorial County Park commemorates the men of San Mateo County who died in the First World War, and it is an incomparable tribute. The park encloses not just a few haphazardly spared giant redwoods but an entire old growth grove, and the difference is astounding. The steady supply of oversized trees throws off any innate sense of the space-time continuum, leaving one a bit disoriented. (What century is it again?) This is what used to be, now suspended in time, and available for any ol’ afternoon picnic or car-camping weekend.

Adding to the time traveling effect, Memorial Park is San Mateo County’s oldest public open space, purchased in 1924. FDR’s Work Projects Administration built many of the restrooms, roads and picnic sites; and they look it, in a really good way.

Towering trees stand guard over rock-hewn picnic tables and fire pits that are so beautifully crafted and artfully moss covered they seem more like ancient ruins than functioning eateries. But pull up a patch of redwood sorrel among the ferns and stay, cause it’s all here for you.

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And that’s just the picnic area. Memorial Park covers an entire 499 acres, including a Pescadero Creek swimming hole, visitor center, camp store, campsites and awesome day hikes. Memorial’s larger neighbor, Pescadero Creek County Park, is also accessible from the Hoffman Flat Trailhead via Old Haul Road. Bikes are allowed on this road but no other park trails.

Hunt for huckleberry thickets (watch out for poison oak!) while keeping an eye out for bright black and blue Steller’s jays, redheaded acorn woodpeckers, raccoons, skunks and squirrels. Splash around in the Pescadero Creek swimming hole, but be respectful of resident or spawning steelhead trout and the banana slugs sliding along the banks.

Day use at the park is allowed from 8am to sunset. Campsites—complete with showers and water—are open year round but subject to closure during drought (as they were in the summer of 2014). The Interpretive center is open May to September and has board games as well as natural and historic exhibits.

A FINE PLACE TO CHILL: Stay cool in some very deep shade and the occasional coastal fog come summer, or set up camp while exploring the entire Pescadero Creek Complex.

PLEASE DO NOT: bring your horse or dog, as neither is allowed, or ride a bike anywhere except Old Haul Road.

YOU'LL FEEL SO CLEVER IF YOU: bring a jacket for the chill and watch out for, and avoid, steelhead redds (fish nests) in the creek.

YOU MIGHT EVEN: have the whole place to yourself in the winter.

—L. Clark Tate

Memorial Park, 9500 Pescadero Creek Rd, Loma Mar, CA. 650.879.0238. Learn more at the official website.