trail and poppies

Trail Use & Regulations

Preserve Regulations, Safety, and Etiquette

Visitors are responsible for knowing and obeying all rules and regulations before visiting the preserves.

Our rules are for the protection of our visitors and natural resources, and to make everyone's visit a safe and enjoyable experience. The information given below is a compilation of rules, regulations, preserve policies, and safety. Please observe them for your safety and enjoyment as well as the safety and enjoyment of others. It will save our preserves and make them a valuable resource now and in the future. 

District Regulations and Ordinances

Hours of Operation

Preserves are open from dawn until a half hour after sunset.

General Rules & Regulations

Closed Areas
Plants and Animals
Reporting an Incident

Closed Areas: Certain trails or areas within the District are closed either as regular seasonal/interim closures or as Sensitive/Hazardous Closures.  Please note that entering a closed area is punishable as an infraction or a misdemeanor, depending on the classification of the closure. 

Dogs: Dogs are allowed only in designated preserves or areas as posted and must be controlled on a maximum 6-foot leash at all times. NEVER leave dogs inside parked cars. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Midpen accommodates service dogs in Preserves wherever we allow public access. Please see Dogs for complete rules and regulations.

Bicyclists: Helmets are required at all times. Please observe the 15-mph trail speed limit (5-mph when passing or approaching blind turns). Ride on designated trails only (indicated on preserve signs and maps). Please see Bikes for complete rules and regulations..

Equestrians: Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. Riders under 18 years of age are required to wear a helmet on all District land. Ride on designated trails only (indicated on preserve signs and maps). Please see Equestrians for complete rules and regulations.

Groups: For safety reasons, permits are required for all groups of 20 or more people. See the Permit Information page for details.

Fires: Fires are prohibited on preserves. 

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited on preserves. 

Weapons: Weapons of any kind are prohibited on preserves. 

Plants and Animals: Please leave plants and animals undisturbed. This not only preserves the natural environment, but is also a safety precaution.

Permits: Some activities on District open space preserves require a use permit. See the Permit Information page for details.

Wildlife: All wildlife is protected-- please do not disturb any animals you may see. If you are fortunate enough to encounter wildlife during your visit, do not approach, startle, or feed it. Please see Wildlife Safety for more information.

To Report an Incident: Please report any emergency, incident of theft, or other suspicious activity to the 24-hour Ranger Dispatch at (650) 968-4411. For any other District business, call (650) 691-1200.

Trail Safety

District 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. It is your responsibility to exercise caution and to ensure your own safety while using trails.

General Precautions

  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicle! Please 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 extremes can be experienced and you should dress in layers. Dress appropriately for the location, time of year and planned activities. 
  • Drinking water is not available at the 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 cellular telephone coverage is very sporadic on the preserves. In the event that you experience an emergency on District lands (fire, accident, or other immediate threat to life or property), contact the District’s emergency dispatch center at (650) 968-4411. This phone number is for emergency use only. 

Trail Conditions

Trail conditions can vary depending on the time of year, storms which have occurred, and the impact of rain and other natural occurrences. Check the Trail Conditions page for up to date information on trail conditions. 

Other Hazards

While visiting the open space preserves, there are certain hazards, such as those from wildlife and poison oak, or other natural or human-made hazards visitors may encounter. Some trails are rugged and steep and some lead to rugged and remote parts of a preserve. These risks are a natural part of the preserve and visitors must be aware of and willing to accept these risks. Some of these risks are listed below. 

  • Poison oak grows on most preserves; learn to identify and avoid it in all seasons. Poison hemlock is another poisonous plant found throughout the Bay Area. Learn more
  • Yellow jacket nests are particularly active from mid September through mid November and may sting if their nests are disturbed. If you do disturb a yellow jacket nest, general guidelines are to slowly walk away with both hands covering the face to protect the more sensitive body areas. It is best to walk toward dense vegetation or enter a vehicle or building to avoid the stinging insects. Swift movements will only attract more yellow jackets. 
  • Be aware that ticks are active in this area and may carry diseases. Stay on designated trails, and check yourself frequently for ticks. 

Visit the Wildlife Safety page for more information on what to do if you encounter a rattle snake, mountain lion, or coyote.

Trail Etiquette

A variety of uses is permitted on some of the District's trails, while others are limited to specific or single uses.  A District brochure entitled Sharing the Trails provides further information. Following these basic trail etiquette guidelines will ensure an enjoyable visit for everyone: 

  • Check trail signs for allowable user groups (i.e. bicyclist, equestrian, etc.)
  • Please be courteous to other trail users. 
  • Prevent injury to yourself and damage to natural resources by staying on designated trails. 
  • Always yield to equestrians. 
  • When in a group, avoid blocking the trail. Allow other uses to pass safely.
  • Stay alert. Always be on the lookout for other trail users, emergency vehicles, or wildlife. Wear only one ear bud while listening to music for both personal safety and awareness.
  • Announce yourself when approaching another visitor, especially from behind. Horses and slower moving individuals may be startled by faster moving trail users.
  • Do not litter. Pack it in, pack it out (including dog waste)


  • Observe the 15-mph trail speed limit; 5-mph when passing. 
  • Wearing a helmet is required for users of ALL ages. 
  • Always yield to other trail users. 
  • Ride only on trails designated for bicycle use. Closed areas or off-trail use is prohibited.


  • Bring your dog only on trails designated for dog use. 
  • Dogs must be on a leash not to exceed 6 feet.
  • Pick up dog waste and take it with you.


  • Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. 
  • Riders under 18 years of age are required to wear a helmet on all District land. 
  • Ride on designated trails only (indicated on preserve signs and maps).

Sign up for our newsletter to find out what’s happening in your open space!