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 park is located 2.7 miles west of Hwy. 280 at 3300 Page Mill Road.
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 in two additional cars per resident.
Groups of 25 or more must make a reservation in advance. Groups of 24 or fewer may leave a guest list with a ranger in person at the entrance station.
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 leash at all times.
- Bicycles are allowed on paved roads only, and not on trails.
- Coasting devices (i.e. skates, roller blades, scooters and skateboards) are not allowed in Foothills Park.
- Fires, barbecues and smoking are restricted to designated areas.
- Use park barbecues for charcoal fires only; no wood fires.
- No collecting of plants or animals.
See the Rules and Regulations page for more information.
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, catfish, 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 permitting.
Picnic Areas: Five picnic areas are first-come, first-served for groups of 24 (children included) or fewer. Tables, barbecues, and water are available. Groups of 25 or more people must have a reservation. The Oak Grove group picnic area is the only picnic area that is reservable, and can be used by groups of 1-150.
Camping: Towle Camp is a seasonal campground available to residents and their guests for tent camping from May 1 to October 31. At the end of Wildhorse Valley, eight peaceful campsites are nestled under the trees. Each site offers a charcoal barbecue, water, picnic table, tent area and food box. Six of the campsites can accommodate up to eight people, and the remaining two campsites can accommodate up to sixteen people. Campsites can be reserved up to one year in advance. Many Friday and Saturday nights are booked two to four months in advance. Sunday through Thursday nights are often available that same week.
Download the Foothills Park Facility Use Application and Permit packet to make a reservation for camping or the Oak Grove picnic area. For more information please call 650-329-2423.
Nature Interpretive Center: The Nature Interpretive Center has exhibits and maps and is the starting point for many nature walks.
Nature Programs: Ranger-led activities are available throughout the year in Foothills Park. See the Activities and Programs page for more information.
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.
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