UPDATE as of Monday 8/31/2020
Foothills Park has reopened to Palo Alto residents and accompanied guests.
All BBQs except those in Orchard Glen Picnic Area closed.
Bounded by Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve and Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, the 1,400-acre Foothills Park is a nature lover's paradise. Miles of trails provide access through rugged chaparral, woodlands, fields, streams, and a lake, and provide spectacular views of the Bay Area. Wildlife abounds, and it is common to see deer and coyotes; if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a bobcat.
The land for Foothills Park was sold to the City of Palo Alto by Dr. Russel Lee, founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, and his wife Dorothy in 1958, on the condition that it be preserved as open space. The park was formally dedicated in 1965. The Interpretive Center in the park is housed in a building originally built by the Lees as a horse stable. For more information, see the Palo Alto Historical Association's chapter on Foothills Park in their city history.
On August 3rd, City Council discussed increasing access to Foothills Park for non-residents and directed staff to return with details and costs for a pilot program to allow non-residents entry. Their direction was to have a pilot program implemented starting either by this upcoming fall or winter.
Link to 8/3/2020 Staff Report to City Council: Staff Report ID# 11490
Link to 8/3/2020 video of City Council discussion: Action Item #10
Note: You still must be a Palo Alto resident or accompanied guest to enter Foothills Park at this time.
COVID-19 Closures and Limitations
- Interpretive Center
- Oak Grove group BBQ site, all individual BBQs except for Orchard Glen Picnic Area
- Canoe rentals
- Water Fountains
Open (some with limitations)
- Trails (see some one-way only trails below)
- Restrooms (except those in Interpretive Center)
- Picnic table areas (restricted to only one household per site, only Orchard Glen BBQs open)
- Campground (restricted to only one household per site)
- Park benches
Please respect other park visitors and keep at least 6 feet apart if not of the same household. When letting others pass on trails, be aware of snakes, ticks, Poison Oak and your footing when making room.
One-Way Trail Routes
Fern Loop, Los Trancos, as well as Toyon and portions of Woodrat have been made one-way for visitor safety. There are signs posted in the following locations. Below are descriptions of routes and estimated mileage.
SHORT HIKE- One-way Fern Loop trail begins in Wild Horse Valley. Begin on ride side keeping right and then looping back down to the left side. Mileage is 0.57 mi. plus the short hike up Wildhorse Valley from Orchard Glen parking.
MEDIUM HIKE- One-way Toyon trail begins at the main entrance parking lot and then meets with Woodrat trail continuing down to Shady Cove Picnic Area to the paved road just below the lake. Mileage is 0.64 mi. on one-way route plus additional 0.5 to 0.75 mi. hike back depending on route back around the lake.
LONG HIKE- One-way Los Trancos trail begins across from the Interpretive Center and ends in Wild Horse Valley running counter-clockwise. Mileage is 7.7 mi. You may also use the wide Trapper's Fire Road to shorten and connect the beginning of Los Trancos trail with the end of Los Trancos trail.
Foothills Park is open to Palo Alto residents and their accompanied guests only. Proof of residency is required. Guests must be accompanied by a Palo Alto resident. Limit of 15 guests per resident in two additional cars. Please call the Foothills Park rangers for clarification or for additional questions at 650-329-2423. List of acceptable proofs of residency
Open Space has specific rules on group sizes. Those with groups of 25 or more must have a permit or reservation in advance. Those with groups of 24 or fewer do not need a permit. Residents and non-residents, adults and children are included in the group size. For more information, please visit our Groups and Special Events Permits page.
These are a few of the rules to help everyone enjoy this nature preserve:
- Dogs are not permitted anywhere in Foothills Park on weekends or city holidays. Dogs are only permitted on weekdays and must be on a leash under physical control at all times. More information is on our Dogs page.
- Bicycles are allowed on paved roads only, and not on trails. All bicyclists must wear helmets.
- Coasting devices (i.e., skates, roller blades, scooters, and skateboards) are not allowed in Open Space.
- Fires and barbecues are restricted to designated areas. Staff may restrict usage depending on fire danger.
- Use park barbecues for charcoal fires only; no wood fires.
- No collecting of plants or animals.
- No smoking anywhere within Open Space nature preserves.
- No remote-control devices, for articles such as boats, planes, quadcopters or drones.
For more information, please visit our Rules and Regulations page or contact the rangers at 650-329-2423.
Things to Do
Hiking Trails: There are fifteen miles of hiking trails, which offer a variety of hiking experiences. The longest hike is the Los Trancos Trail, which is 7.5 miles. The Toyon Self-Guided Nature Trail enables you to learn about nature at your own pace. See the Foothills Park trail map for more information.
Lake, Fishing, and Boating: Fishing is permitted in Boronda Lake. All anglers age 16 and over must have a California Sport Fishing License. Fish species in the lake include bass, and sunfish. While swimming is prohibited you may enjoy the lake with your non-motorized and hand-launched boat. Canoes are also available for rent on the weekends and holidays from May 1st to October 31st, weather and staffing permitting.
Picnic Areas: Five picnic areas are first-come, first-served, and there is one picnic area that is by reservation only. Tables, barbecues, and water are available. Groups at the non-reservable picnic areas may not exceed 24 people (adults and children, residents and non-residents included). Groups of 25 or more people must have a reservation in advance for the Oak Grove picnic area.
Camping: Towle Camp is a seasonal campground available to residents and their accompanied guests for tent camping from May 1 to October 31. To make a reservation for camping, use the city's online reservation system. For more information, visit the Foothills Park Towle Campground page or call 650-329-2423.
Nature Interpretive Center: The Nature Interpretive Center has exhibits and maps and is the starting point for many nature walks. There is a meeting room available for rent. For more information, see Foothills Park Interpretive Center Meeting Room Reservation Information. You can use the city's online reservation system to make a reservation.
Nature Programs: Ranger-led activities are available throughout the year in Foothills Park. See the Activities and Programs page for more information.
Know Before You Go
3300 Page Mill Road
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
11799 Page Mill Road
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
Foothills Fire Management Plan
Help Keep Boronda Lake Full