UPDATE as of Monday, 6/15/2020
Foothills Park is now reopened to vehicles. Please note, you must show proof of Palo Alto residency to enter. See residency requirement below.
The park entrance restroom and Orchard Glen restrooms are now open. The Interpretive Center and restrooms are closed. All BBQ areas, benches and water fountains remain closed. Towle Campground will open to campers July 8th and will be limited to one household per campsite. This is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect public and staff health.
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 click here new routes on map
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.
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.
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.
Closures are in the interest of public health and safety and in alignment with the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department’s order to shelter in place. The City is urging the community to stay at home. This will save lives. If large crowds continue at our parks and Open Space Preserves, we will have no choice but to close them for the safety of the whole community. Please stay close to home. Thank you for your understanding.
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.
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.
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.
3300 Page Mill Road
Foothills Fire Management Plan
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 DoHiking 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.
picnic area is the only picnic area that is reservable, and may be used by groups of 1 to 150. Read the Foothills Park Oak Grove Picnic Area Reservation Information first, then use the city's online reservation system to make a reservation. For more information and photos visit the Oak Grove page or call the rangers at 650-329-2423.
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 GoFoothills Park General Information
Some of the most common rules and regulations regarding use of Foothills Park, such as group sizes, reservations, entry hours, dogs.
Reservation fees for campsites, Oak Grove picnic area, and the Interpretive Center meeting room.
For Oak Grove, Interpretive Center and Towle Campground reservations only. Not for use for small groups.
HistoryThe 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.