Coal Creek is an ideal place for a quick afternoon hike with one's dog. Several trails can be combined to create a pleasant 2- or 3-mile loop. Views of the San Francisco Bay Area can be seen from the open grassland ridges below the Caltrans vista point parking area.
You will be treated to stunning views of the South Bay if you venture down this 0.9-mile long out-and-back trail that meanders through grassy meadows below the Caltrans vista point on Skyline Boulevard. A longer 2.4-mile long loop can be constructed by connecting this trail to the Meadow Trail and Alpine Road.
This 1.7-mile long loop winds through oak woodlands, and features a small seasonal waterfall, and views of the South San Francisco Bay. This hike is almost entirely shaded, and is pleasant even in the middle of the day. Dogs on leash are allowed on this loop.
Preserve Highlights & Features
Seasonal waterfalls can be found in Coal Creek Preserve in the wetter winter months.
Stories from the Preserves
Here are some of the plants and animals that other visitors have observed at this preserve and recorded in iNaturalist. Protected species may be excluded and some species may not yet have been observed. Help improve iNaturalist by adding your observations to the Midpen Biodiversity Index project
Join our e-mail list to stay up-to-date on this preserve and other Midpen news!
Know Before You Go
Preserve regulations help provide a safe, enjoyable visit while protecting sensitive areas and wildlife.
Share the Trail
Use designated trails to avoid damage to natural resources and prevent injury.
Avoid blocking the trail. Step aside to allow others to pass .
Whether you’re walking or biking, always yield to equestrians.
Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in. Most preserves do not have trash cans. Littering is prohibited.
Abuses of trail etiquette should be brought to the attention of a ranger or call the Midpen main office at 650-691-1200.
- Alpine Road Trail will be open November 2022 - June 2023. Expect closures in the summer of 2023 as Phase II of the project will begin. Find out more here. Image
Silicon Valley Vista Point Roadside Parking (25 spaces): This parking area, which is owned and operated by Caltrans, is temporarily closed. Access the pull-out area on Skyline Boulevard (opposite Russian Ridge Preserve gate RR01), approximately 1.2 miles north of Page Mill Road and 6 miles south of Highway 84.
Upper Alpine Roadside Parking (7 spaces): Accessible to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians from Alpine Road.
- Bicyclists: Bicycles are allowed on designated trails only (marked on map). Helmets are required. Observe the 15 mph trail speed limit (5 mph when passing). E-bikes are not allowed on most Midpen trails. Avoid startling hikers and equestrians by announcing your presence when approaching from behind. For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
- Dogs: Dogs are allowed only on designated trails in this preserve (marked on map) and must be controlled on a 6-foot or less leash. Self-retracting leashes are allowed with a maximum extended length of 25 feet. Extended leashes must be locked at 6’ when in the presence of other visitors. Visitors may have no more than three dogs per person. Bag dog waste and take it with you. Midpen accommodates service dogs in preserves wherever we allow public access. For more information visit the Dog Access page.
- Drones and Model Aircraft: Drones, model airplanes and model rockets are NOT allowed.
- Equestrians: Horses are allowed on designated trails (marked on map). Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For more information visit the Equestrian Access page.
- Fires are prohibited in preserves.
- Plants & Wildlife: Please leave undisturbed. If you encounter wildlife during a visit, do not approach, startle or feed it. Although wild animals are generally fearful of humans and will run away, some wildlife can be dangerous.
- Smoking is prohibited in preserves.
- Water Areas: Swimming, wading or engaging in any water-contact activity is prohibited.
- Weapons are prohibited in preserves.
A general access permit is required for any activity or event that:
- may be attended by twenty (20) or more people; OR
- would restrict the use of any part of Midpen lands by members of the public; OR
- requests or requires a fee be paid or a donation made for participation. This includes events where the fee is in the form of a mandatory purchase, such as a t-shirt.
Midpen trails and facilities are generally very safe. However, you are entering an environment where there are some naturally occurring hazards. Reasonable caution and common sense should be utilized when venturing into any outdoor environment.
- Do not leave valuables in your vehicle! Lock your vehicle and store valuables out of sight or take them with you on the trail.
- Travel in groups of two or more. Two of more people can assist each other in the event of an accident or emergency.
- Dress for the environment. Temperature changes can be occur and you should dress in layers appropriate for the location, time of year and planned activities.
- Carry water with you. Drinking water is not available at most Midpen preserves so you should bring your own. Two quarts per person per two hour hike is recommended.
- Apply sunscreen and drink plenty of water prior to and during your outdoor activities.
- Be aware that cell service is very sporadic on the preserves.
Be Prepared and Aware
Plan ahead before you leave. Check regulations and weather, download a map, pack water and first aid.
Know your limits and take safety precautions.
Rattlesnakes are native to this area and are especially active in warm weather.
Poison oak grows on most preserves: Learn to identify and avoid it in all seasons.
Ticks are present in this area and may carry diseases.
Mountain lions are a natural part of this region’s environment and are occasionally seen.
In Case of Emergency
If you experience an emergency (fire, accident or other immediate threat to life or property), call 911. For nonemergencies, call 650-691-1200.
Activities & Events
Although Coal Creek Preserve is only around 500 acres, there is much to enjoy about its rich history. Once a place where Native Americans gathered and ground acorns and other seeds, purchase by Midpen saved this area from being turned into a residential subdivision.
Brochures and Resources
Some additional resources to help you enjoy the preserves!