San Jose, CA: Tiptoe Falls, Portola Redwoods State Park

Take a leisurely hike among the giant redwoods to Tiptoe Falls at Portola Redwood State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
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Take a leisurely hike among the giant redwoods to Tiptoe Falls at Portola Redwood State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

After a long scenic drive deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains, Portola Redwoods State Park is worth spending a leisurely dayhike alongside its giant redwoods. Tiptoe Falls is a popular destination at this remote park, but this park has dense forests with redwoods, wildflowers, banana slugs, and great California history behind it, too. BY MELISSA AVERY, Chasqui Mom

Trip Stats
Distance: 2.8 miles (Loop)
Time: 4 hours (Hiking with Children)
Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour 15 minutes
More Information: Portola Redwood California State Park 

Prep
1. Park Entrance Fees are $10 per vehicle. The Visitor Center is occasionally closed so make sure you bring exact change or checks for self-registration.
2. Bring Water and Food! Portola Redwoods is very remote and water is sometimes not available.
3. Seasonal Bridges: The trails cross the creeks multiple times and some bridges are removed during the rainy season. Be prepared to ford the creeks or take a longer route around to Tiptoe Falls.

Explore
Mile 0.0: Start at the Visitor Center and take the Maintenance Road for 0.8 miles towards the Iverson Cabin Site for a slight uphill hike.
0.8: Arrive at the Iverson Cabin Site. Continue on the Maintenance Road for 0.1 miles but the paved road has turned into a dirt road.
0.9: Turn right onto Iverson Trail; immediately walk across a small wooden bridge over Iverson Creek. There might be a small waterfall, if there has been recent rainfall. Continue for 0.3 miles.
1.3: Turn right onto Old Haul Road (fire road) for about 300 ft.
1.4: Turn a sharp right onto Iverson Trail for a gentle downhill hike towards Fall Creek for 0.2 miles. This section has many giant redwood trees along the trail along with a few open meadows.
1.6: Turn left at Fall Creek and follow the sign to Tiptoe Fall on an unmarked trail for about 400 ft to Tiptoe Falls.
1.7: Arrive at Tiptoe Falls. Backtrack to the intersection of Fall Creek and Iverson Trail and follow the trail marker (continue straight) to the “Main Area” of Pescadero Creek, Iverson Trail for 0.2 miles
1.9: Arrive at Pescadero Creek. This area is larger than the falls and a good place to have to have lunch if Tiptoe Falls is crowded with hikers. Turn right on the trail marker towards Ranger/Visitor Center on Iverson Trail and hike up the hill for 0.4 miles. There are more large redwoods along this section of the park.
2.3: At the Y-Intersection take a slight right on Sequoia Nature Trail down to Pescadero Creek for 0.3 miles. Watch for downed trees on the trail.
2.6: Cross the Pescadero Creek seasonal bridge or ford the creek if the bridge is down. Rocks are mostly in place to ford the creek. The creeks can be anywhere from ankle to thigh deep, observe the warning signs and cross with caution.
2.7: Continue on Sequoia Nature Trail for 0.1 miles, by taking the wooden steps back to the Visitor Center.

Reward
1. Best Time to Visit: Any time after rain! The creeks will be flowing and the weather will cool down, but remember the seasonal bridges are removed during the rainy season.
2. For Families: Take the kids to the Visitor Center to learn about the wildlife at Portola Redwoods. Pescadero Creek is nearby as well, for water fun like skipping rocks.
3. Banana Slugs galore! Have you ever tried kissing one? Well here’s your chance at Portola Redwoods, they are everywhere even in the dry season, just watch your footing step while on the trail.

Family Hiking Day
Temp: 55 F, Partly Cloudy (Spring-April)
Who: Two Adults, two children and one infant
Family Gear: One Day Pack, Framed Kid Carrier, Soft Carrier, two sets of hiking poles
Snacks: Water, Sandwiches, Fruit and Banana Chips

Trail Facts

  • State: CA
  • City: San Jose, CA
  • Distance: 0.0
  • Land Type: State Park