Permit Information

Some activities on District open space preserves require a use permit. The following information identifies activities requiring a permit, explains why such permits are necessary, and describes the permit process.

When are use permits required?

1. A group activity on District land requires a permit for any activity or event which:

  • is advertised or noticed in any publication, poster, electronic posting or flyer; or

  • requests or requires a fee be paid for participation; or

  • may be attended by twenty (20) or more people

To avoid overcrowding of Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, group permits will no longer be issued for weekend days and holidays.

To avoid overcrowding of Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve during wildflower season, group permits will not be issued for weekend days from April - July.

For group activities involving 50 or more people on District land, a permit fee and other restrictions may apply. Please see Large Groups/Events for more information.

2. Regardless of the number of people in the party, permits are required for activities on District land including, but not limited to, those listed below:

The District may grant, deny, or limit any permit after considering the suitability and impact of the proposed use and the effect of the proposed use upon the peace and convenience of other visitors to the preserves. Upon granting any permit, the District may attach reasonable conditions and restrictions regarding the activity. Any permit is subject to cancellation at any time for non-compliance with District rules and regulations.

How do I get a permit ?

The District now offers an online application system for most permits. All permit applicants should allow a minimum of 2 working days for permit processing.

A general use permit applies in most cases; however, please review the Additional Information for Specific Activities/Preserves below before submitting an application.

Permit fees are only assessed for Camping at Monte Bello Black Mountain Backpack Camp, commercial film/photography, and for large groups/events (50 or more people); No fees are assessed for any of the other activity permits.


Access to Bear Creek Redwoods

  1. Permits (no fee) are issued for single-day use for hiking or horseback riding only.
  2. Access is through locked gate # BC-04 only.
  3. Prohibited: bicycles, dogs, fishing, and cross-country travel.
  4. Please stay on the roadways.


Access to La Honda Creek

  1. Permits (no fee) are issued for single-day use for hiking only.
  2. Permit access to this Preserve is via the Allen Road locked gate only.
  3. Drive-in access via car is the only allowed means of access.
  4. No parking is allowed outside the gate (private property).


After-Hours Astronomy

A no-fee permit is required for after-hours use of the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve parking lot for astronomical viewing. The parking lot is open for permit-only parking from dusk to 2:00 a.m.

  1. Preserve closes at dusk. No use of surrounding trails is allowed, and camping is prohibited.
  2. Fires and camp stoves of any type are prohibited.


Camping at Black Mountain Backpack Camp

The Black Mountain Backpack Camp is the only campsite on District lands. The camp is a 1.5-mile hike from Page Mill Road and includes a 500-foot uphill climb from the parking lot. A permit is required, and the fee ($2 per night per camper) is payable after the camping trip.

Reservations are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Because the designated campsites fill up quickly, we encourage campers to check campsite availability before submitting a permit application. Please note that online availability does NOT guarantee a permit; applications are processed first come, first serve. Generally, applications should be submitted at least one week in advance. Reservations are available for one- or two-night stays throughout the year.

  1. Overnight parking in the Monte Bello lot is BY PERMIT ONLY.
  2. There are 4 campsites - 4 people maximum each site. There is 1 group campsite - 24 people maximum. (Maximum 40 people for entire campground.)
  3. Visitors must arrive at campsite after 2:00 p.m. and BEFORE SUNSET. The surrounding preserve area is closed a half-hour after sunset.
  4. Visitors must vacate campsite by 12:00 p.m.
  5. Stay on designated trails. Visitors must camp in designated campsites only.
  6. Cook stoves are to be used in designated areas only. NO CAMP FIRES!
  7. Please carry out everything you bring in, including refuse. The water is non-potable. Boil or filter before using.
  8. Bicyclists must wear a helmet.
  9. Dogs are prohibited.
  10. Radios or loud activities are prohibited.
  11. Firearms or weapons of any kind are prohibited.
  12. No one under 18 years old may camp on any District Lands, except when:
    a) Accompanied by a parent or guardian; or
    b) Part of a group supervised by at least one adult, each responsible for ten or fewer juveniles; or
    c) The juvenile is an emancipated minor.



The District manages land preserves to protect and restore the natural environment. Each year, many people request permission to conduct fieldwork on the preserves which supports science, conservation, restoration, or the monitoring of environmental quality.  When such activities are compatible with the District mission, the District provides limited permission to conduct fieldwork on the preserves.  Usually the fieldwork relates to one of the following topics: conservation biology, natural resource management, biology, environmental sciences, ecology, or related studies.  Successful permit applicants are expected to make their findings accessible to the public and the District through reports, publications, and/or presentations.  Applicants must demonstrate a well-constructed research/project proposal, knowledge of the topic, a schedule for reporting, and a thorough plan to avoid potential adverse impacts to the environment that could be caused by the fieldwork

If your project falls within these guidelines, please complete the Fieldwork Permit Application. To expedite the review process, please be as complete and informative as possible in completing the form. Please allow a minimum of two weeks for permit approval and processing.



Permits are required for both still and motion photography. Parking is extremely limited, and non-District vehicles generally are not permitted on District preserves. Fees may apply. Please allow a minimum of one week for permit approval and processing.




A permit is not required to place or search for a cache, however all geocachers placing caches on District lands must be registered users with and must comply with District Geocaching Guidelines as well as those established by Anyone placing or searching for a cache must do so during normal preserve hours and must follow the procedures as outlined in the District's Geocaching Guidelines.


Hang Gliding and Paraglidng at Windy Hill

Hang gliding and paragliding are possible at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. An advanced-rated pilot’s license along with membership in the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc. is required. For more specific information, please contact us at

Parking at El Sereno
Overlook Lot

  1. A permit is required to park in this lot.
  2. Permit applications should be submitted at least two business days in advance of the permit date requested. Applications submitted less than two business days in advance may be given consideration, but cannot be guaranteed to be processed in time for the requested permit date.
  3. The permit is valid for a specific date.
  4. Permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis, with a maximum of six permits issued per day and 30 permits issued per month.


Parking at Monte Bello
Waterwheel Creek Lot

  1. A permit is required to park in this lot.
  2. Permit applications should be submitted at least two business days in advance of the permit date requested. Applications submitted less than two business days in advance may be given consideration, but cannot be guaranteed to be processed in time for the requested permit date.
  3. The permit is valid for a specific date.


Remote Control Gliders
at Windy Hill Preserve

  1. A permit is required to fly a remote control glider at Windy Hill OSP.
  2. Motorized planes and helicopters are NOT allowed.
  3. Permit applications should be submitted at least two business days in advance of the permit date requested. Applications submitted less than two business days in advance may be given consideration, but cannot be guaranteed to be processed in time for the requested permit date.



Running/Exercise Groups

A no-fee permit is required for all groups planning to meet in a preserve to run or exercise together, whether formally organized or not. To avoid overcrowding at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, permits will no longer be issued for weekend days. Schools and other organized groups are encouraged to submit specific dates they wish to be in the preserve(s) to avoid reaching the weekday cut-offs. Weekend permits may be available for other preserves including Fremont Older Open Space Preserve, St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve, Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, and Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve.

  1. Politeness and safety are to take precedence over the clocked time of the run.
  2. Cones or flags may be used to mark trails. Do not use paint, chalk, flour, or anything similar for marking (dangerous for wildlife).
  3. Do not attach signs to District signs, fences, or trees.
  4. Permittee is responsible for own first-aid.
  5. Permittee is responsible for site clean up and removal of all trail markings and/or litter immediately after the practice.
  6. Permittee shall comply with all federal, state, local, and District laws, regulations, and Ordinances.


Scattering of Ashes/Cremains

The District permits the scattering of legally cremated human or animal remains (cremains) on District lands. A no-fee permit is required. Conditions and regulations governing this activity are:

  1. The scattering of cremains is prohibited: within 1,000 feet of any residence or dwelling, within 500 feet of any creek, stream, or other body of water, or within 50 feet of any road or trail.
  2. Cremains must be scattered, must not be left in a pile, and must not be readily visible to the public.
  3. No containers for the cremains, identification tags, vases, flower pots, or other associated non-organic materials, or non-native plants, may be left at the site.
  4. No memorial, plaque, or other site marker may be left at the site.
  5. Any person scattering cremains on District land shall possess and present upon request this valid District permit when scattering cremains.


Visiting Deer Hollow Farm at Rancho San Antonio

  1. Be prepared to remove all garbage as there are no trash cans at the Farm or in the Preserve.
  2. Groups of 20 or more persons visiting the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve and Deer Hollow Farm are required to obtain a permit well in advance of their visit. Unannounced large groups interfere with Farm activities, classes, and operations.
  3. Parking is in the main parking lot. Carpooling is strongly advised.
  4. Hay barn and picnic tables are first-come, first-served.
  5. For your safety and that of the animals, please follow these farm guidelines:
  • Adults: Keep your children with you at all times.
  • Please walk.
  • Use quiet voices at the Farm.
  • Buildings and pens are not open to the public.
  • Remember to not feed the animals.
  • Fences are not for climbing.
  • Enjoy looking at the plants, but please don’t pick them.
  • Do not ride bikes in the barnyard.

APPLY FOR A TRIP PERMIT for groups of 20-49 people.
Otherwise, please see Large Group/Event for more information.


Some District lands offer beautiful vistas that may be suitable for an outdoor wedding. However, limitations on parking, and the need for all participants to hike in to the location may limit the feasibility of holding a wedding on District lands. We recommend that anyone interested in having a ceremony on District lands review the basic conditions and suggested wedding locations and visit the potential site before requesting a wedding permit.


Why does the District require use permits?

The District's Basic Policy states that "the District will follow a land management policy that provides proper care of open space land, allowing public access appropriate to the nature of the land and consistent with ecological values." Accordingly, the District encourages low-intensity recreation such as hiking, nature study, and picnicking.

The District will consider requests for short-term use of lands or facilities for such purposes as runs, equestrian events, weddings, or similar activities. To protect natural resources and provide for the safety of preserve visitors, a special use permit will be required.

For any permit request, the District wants to ensure that:

  1. The activity will not have an adverse impact on the ecological or historical character of District land;
  2. Rangers are available in case of emergencies;
  3. The time, place and/or size of the event will not disrupt or interfere with the normal use of the site by other preserve visitors; and
  4. Scheduling conflicts are avoided, i.e. two large groups in the same place at the same time.

  Additional Information

Access to Bear Creek Redwoods

Access to La Honda Creek

After-hours Astronomy

Bicycling (20+ participants)

Bike Demos

Camping at Black Mtn. Camp

Deer Hollow Farm

Defensible Space


Filming and Photography


Hang gliding/Paragliding

Hiking (20+ participants)

Landscape Painting

Large Groups/Events (50+ participants)

Parking at El Sereno Overlook

Parking at Waterwheel Creek

Remote Control Gliders

Running/Exercise Groups

Scattering of Cremains


District Ordinances

District Basic Policy