El Corte de Madera

Preserve Info

Hiking
Biking
Equestrian
Restrooms

Overview

iconMore than 34 miles of multiuse trail are available for exploration at this 2,906-acre preserve. While this preserve is extremely popular with bicyclists, it also has lots of hearty hiking and horseback riding opportunities. Visitors will find creekside trails through mixed evergreen and redwood forests, enjoy ocean views, admire rare sandstone formations and experience a sense of remoteness while remaining close to an urban area.

Please note: This preserve is closed to all off-trail use. Bike and equestrian access is not allowed on the trail leading to the sandstone formation. No dogs allowed.

The new Oljon TrailThe new Oljon Trail in El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve is now OPEN! This project removed a portion of Steam Donkey Trail and added new single-track trail, creating new loop trail options for outdoor enthusiasts biking, hiking or on horseback. The trail is the final piece of an 18-year watershed protection program to restore the landscape, protect sensitive fish habitat, improve forest health and enhance the visitor experience, after over a century of human impacts that included clear-cutting the forest.

 

Gallery

Features

  • Tafoni: Nature’s Sandstone Sculptures - Tafoni are large sandstone boulders that have naturally weathered over thousands of years to create cave-like indentations in the rock, as well as lacy “fretwork” resembling honeycomb, and “tree trunks,” which have the appearance of being petrified. This tafoni sandstone formation, located in the northern part of the preserve, is about 1 mile from the Tafoni Trail trailhead at gate #CM01. The short trail to the formation is hiking only. Please help us preserve this valuable and delicate natural resource by remaining on the observation deck and not climbing on the formations.
  • Methuselah Tree - Across the road from the preserve, this 1,800 year-old redwood tree, is the largest redwood in the Santa Cruz Mountains outside of the trees found in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The tree is on land owned by the California Water Service and they have generously allowed public access to this portion of their land. Find out more about Methuselah here
  • Watershed Protection Area - El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve is located in the upper headwaters of the San Gregorio Creek Watershed, which provides critical habitat for steelhead trout and coho salmon. To reduce erosion and sedimentation at the preserve, Midpen created the watershed protection program to protect and restore the watershed. Visitors are required to stay on designated trails. Please note that off trail use is a misdemeanor.

How to Get Here

Main Parking

  • Located on the west side of Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard), about 1 mile south of the Caltrans Skeggs Point parking area and 2.7 miles north of the intersection of Skyline and Highway 84 (La Honda Road).

Get driving directions:

 

 


Skeggs Point Parking Lot

Access to the El Corte de Madera Creek Trail / Tafoni Trail entrance

  • Located across Skyline Boulevard at the Caltrans Skeggs Point parking area.
  • Parking is available for 25 cars on the east side of Skyline, about 4 miles north of Highway 84 and 1.5 miles south of Kings Mountain Road (left turn into the lot is prohibited when approaching from the north).

Get driving directions to Skeggs Point:

 

 

Methuselah Trail Entrance

  • Located approximately 2.2 miles south of Kings Mountain Road, with very limited roadside parking.

Trails

Oljon Trail - This single-track trail winds along a redwood-forested ridgeline on the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can see sandstone outcroppings and many old-growth stumps from early logging, with springboard notches still visible in some of them.

Resolution Trail - This multiuse, single-track trail that winds through the canyon was named for and dedicated to those who lost their lives on the ill-fated DC-6 commercial airplane, named Resolution, which crashed here in October 1953. The trail starts below the vista point, a knoll off the Fir Trail that served as the base of rescue operations following the crash. Please respect this historical site by leaving any artifacts where you find them.

Manzanita Trail - This trail travels through an area of endemic (locally native) Kings Mountain manzanita. A hike to this unique hilltop rewards you with top-of-the-world views toward the Pacific Ocean. 

Timberview Trail - To visit one of the preserve’s remaining old-growth redwoods, take the Timberview Trail (near its junction with the Giant Salamander Trail). This massive coast redwood is approximately 50 feet in circumference at its base and stands so tall there is barely enough room to stand back and appreciate its full majesty.

Note: This preserve is bordered by private property. Please respect the boundaries and stay on designated preserve trails. Be sure to review trail regulations before visiting this preserve. Also, take a look at the temporary trail closure map posted in the signboard at the trailhead.

Trail Conditions

This information is updated as needed when trails are opened or closed, or when there is scheduled trail maintenance. Visit the full Trail Conditions page for more information.

  • PG&E will be realigning power lines by removing lines that are attached to trees, installing new poles and removing large trees to improve fire safety along Bear Gulch Road from Wednesday, November 6 through Friday, December 6. Access to Spring Board Trail from Bear Gulch Road will be limited at times during this work. All other preserve trails will be unaffected by this work. Find out more about the PG&E wildfire safety program.
  • Methuselah Trail, from Giant Salamander Trail to South Leaf Trail, is CLOSED to equestrians due to trail damage.
  • The eastern portion of the Steam Donkey Trail is PERMANENTLY CLOSED. The trail between the Oljon junction and Highway 35 has been replaced with a newly constructed section 1.3 mile section of the Oljon Trail, connecting to Springboard. This final portion of the watershed protection program reduces the need for preserve visitors to access Highway 35 during their visit and adds over 2,000 feet of new single track to the existing trail network. Download map of trail construction area.
Date updated: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 8:30am

History

The Spanish phrase “el corte de madera” roughly translates to “cutting wood,” referring to the clear-cut logging that took place here, starting in the 1860s. As San Francisco flourished following the discovery of gold in California, logging the coastal redwood forests supplied building materials for the growth. The remote nature of this preserve, coupled with its steep terrain, kept loggers away until the 1860s. Resourceful entrepreneurs spent the next 50 years building and operating eight different mills adjacent to the creeks of the preserve. Around the turn of the century, the mills were closed or nearing the end of their economic viability. Modern selective logging continued periodically until 1988, shortly after the preserve was created.

Be watchful when visiting the preserve. With a little imagination and a good eye, telltale signs of past history are still evident. You might notice a flattened pad where a mill or cabin once stood, or the rusted remains of heavy equipment, abandoned when the mills were no longer economical to operate. Numerous logging roads are still evident, most of which are now trails. With a little help, nature has incredible healing powers: the deep canyons have regenerated dense stands of second-growth redwoods. While most of the giant old-growth redwoods were logged, a few awe-inspiring giants remain to be seen. 

Regulations

  • Hours: Open half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
  • Bicycles: Are allowed on designated trails only (those shown on the map for bicycle use). Helmets are required. Observe the 15 mph trail speed limit (5 mph when passing). For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
  • Equestrians: Horses are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For more information visit the Equestrian Access page.
  • Groups: For safety reasons, permits are required for all groups of 20 or more people.
  • Permits: A use permit is required for any activity or event which: may be attended by twenty (20) or more people; OR is advertised or noticed in any publication, poster, electronic posting or flyer; OR requests/requires a fee be paid for participation. Visit the Permit page for more information.
     
  • Fires: Fires are prohibited in preserves.
     
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in preserves.
     
  • Weapons: All weapons are prohibited in preserves.
     
  • Plants & Wildlife: Please leave plants and animals 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. 
     
  • Water Areas: Swimming, wading or engaging in any water-contact activity is prohibited.

Download District Regulations and Ordinances

Overview

iconMore than 34 miles of multiuse trail are available for exploration at this 2,906-acre preserve. While this preserve is extremely popular with bicyclists, it also has lots of hearty hiking and horseback riding opportunities. Visitors will find creekside trails through mixed evergreen and redwood forests, enjoy ocean views, admire rare sandstone formations and experience a sense of remoteness while remaining close to an urban area.

Please note: This preserve is closed to all off-trail use. Bike and equestrian access is not allowed on the trail leading to the sandstone formation. No dogs allowed.

The new Oljon TrailThe new Oljon Trail in El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve is now OPEN! This project removed a portion of Steam Donkey Trail and added new single-track trail, creating new loop trail options for outdoor enthusiasts biking, hiking or on horseback. The trail is the final piece of an 18-year watershed protection program to restore the landscape, protect sensitive fish habitat, improve forest health and enhance the visitor experience, after over a century of human impacts that included clear-cutting the forest.

 

Features

  • Tafoni: Nature’s Sandstone Sculptures - Tafoni are large sandstone boulders that have naturally weathered over thousands of years to create cave-like indentations in the rock, as well as lacy “fretwork” resembling honeycomb, and “tree trunks,” which have the appearance of being petrified. This tafoni sandstone formation, located in the northern part of the preserve, is about 1 mile from the Tafoni Trail trailhead at gate #CM01. The short trail to the formation is hiking only. Please help us preserve this valuable and delicate natural resource by remaining on the observation deck and not climbing on the formations.
  • Methuselah Tree - Across the road from the preserve, this 1,800 year-old redwood tree, is the largest redwood in the Santa Cruz Mountains outside of the trees found in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The tree is on land owned by the California Water Service and they have generously allowed public access to this portion of their land. Find out more about Methuselah here
  • Watershed Protection Area - El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve is located in the upper headwaters of the San Gregorio Creek Watershed, which provides critical habitat for steelhead trout and coho salmon. To reduce erosion and sedimentation at the preserve, Midpen created the watershed protection program to protect and restore the watershed. Visitors are required to stay on designated trails. Please note that off trail use is a misdemeanor.

Main Parking

  • Located on the west side of Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard), about 1 mile south of the Caltrans Skeggs Point parking area and 2.7 miles north of the intersection of Skyline and Highway 84 (La Honda Road).

Get driving directions:

 

 


Skeggs Point Parking Lot

Access to the El Corte de Madera Creek Trail / Tafoni Trail entrance

  • Located across Skyline Boulevard at the Caltrans Skeggs Point parking area.
  • Parking is available for 25 cars on the east side of Skyline, about 4 miles north of Highway 84 and 1.5 miles south of Kings Mountain Road (left turn into the lot is prohibited when approaching from the north).

Get driving directions to Skeggs Point:

 

 

Methuselah Trail Entrance

  • Located approximately 2.2 miles south of Kings Mountain Road, with very limited roadside parking.

Trails

Oljon Trail - This single-track trail winds along a redwood-forested ridgeline on the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can see sandstone outcroppings and many old-growth stumps from early logging, with springboard notches still visible in some of them.

Resolution Trail - This multiuse, single-track trail that winds through the canyon was named for and dedicated to those who lost their lives on the ill-fated DC-6 commercial airplane, named Resolution, which crashed here in October 1953. The trail starts below the vista point, a knoll off the Fir Trail that served as the base of rescue operations following the crash. Please respect this historical site by leaving any artifacts where you find them.

Manzanita Trail - This trail travels through an area of endemic (locally native) Kings Mountain manzanita. A hike to this unique hilltop rewards you with top-of-the-world views toward the Pacific Ocean. 

Timberview Trail - To visit one of the preserve’s remaining old-growth redwoods, take the Timberview Trail (near its junction with the Giant Salamander Trail). This massive coast redwood is approximately 50 feet in circumference at its base and stands so tall there is barely enough room to stand back and appreciate its full majesty.

Note: This preserve is bordered by private property. Please respect the boundaries and stay on designated preserve trails. Be sure to review trail regulations before visiting this preserve. Also, take a look at the temporary trail closure map posted in the signboard at the trailhead.

Trail Conditions

This information is updated as needed when trails are opened or closed, or when there is scheduled trail maintenance. Visit the full Trail Conditions page for more information.

  • PG&E will be realigning power lines by removing lines that are attached to trees, installing new poles and removing large trees to improve fire safety along Bear Gulch Road from Wednesday, November 6 through Friday, December 6. Access to Spring Board Trail from Bear Gulch Road will be limited at times during this work. All other preserve trails will be unaffected by this work. Find out more about the PG&E wildfire safety program.
  • Methuselah Trail, from Giant Salamander Trail to South Leaf Trail, is CLOSED to equestrians due to trail damage.
  • The eastern portion of the Steam Donkey Trail is PERMANENTLY CLOSED. The trail between the Oljon junction and Highway 35 has been replaced with a newly constructed section 1.3 mile section of the Oljon Trail, connecting to Springboard. This final portion of the watershed protection program reduces the need for preserve visitors to access Highway 35 during their visit and adds over 2,000 feet of new single track to the existing trail network. Download map of trail construction area.
Date updated: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 8:30am

The Spanish phrase “el corte de madera” roughly translates to “cutting wood,” referring to the clear-cut logging that took place here, starting in the 1860s. As San Francisco flourished following the discovery of gold in California, logging the coastal redwood forests supplied building materials for the growth. The remote nature of this preserve, coupled with its steep terrain, kept loggers away until the 1860s. Resourceful entrepreneurs spent the next 50 years building and operating eight different mills adjacent to the creeks of the preserve. Around the turn of the century, the mills were closed or nearing the end of their economic viability. Modern selective logging continued periodically until 1988, shortly after the preserve was created.

Be watchful when visiting the preserve. With a little imagination and a good eye, telltale signs of past history are still evident. You might notice a flattened pad where a mill or cabin once stood, or the rusted remains of heavy equipment, abandoned when the mills were no longer economical to operate. Numerous logging roads are still evident, most of which are now trails. With a little help, nature has incredible healing powers: the deep canyons have regenerated dense stands of second-growth redwoods. While most of the giant old-growth redwoods were logged, a few awe-inspiring giants remain to be seen. 

  • Hours: Open half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
  • Bicycles: Are allowed on designated trails only (those shown on the map for bicycle use). Helmets are required. Observe the 15 mph trail speed limit (5 mph when passing). For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
  • Equestrians: Horses are allowed on designated trails in this Preserve. Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For more information visit the Equestrian Access page.
  • Groups: For safety reasons, permits are required for all groups of 20 or more people.
  • Permits: A use permit is required for any activity or event which: may be attended by twenty (20) or more people; OR is advertised or noticed in any publication, poster, electronic posting or flyer; OR requests/requires a fee be paid for participation. Visit the Permit page for more information.
     
  • Fires: Fires are prohibited in preserves.
     
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in preserves.
     
  • Weapons: All weapons are prohibited in preserves.
     
  • Plants & Wildlife: Please leave plants and animals 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. 
     
  • Water Areas: Swimming, wading or engaging in any water-contact activity is prohibited.

Download District Regulations and Ordinances

Download Preserve Map

Preserve Info

Hiking
Biking
Equestrian
Restrooms

Hours

Preserves are open from one-half hour before official sunrise until one-half hour after official sunset.

Preserve Activities