Skip to content

Six Bridges Trail

Butano State Park

A classic visit to redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains’ hidden gem

Length

2.2 miles

Rated

Easy*

Trail Type

Out & Back

Elevation Gain

200 feet

Looking for a moderate challenge in your health and wellness journey? Try this hidden gem at Butano State Park: Six Bridges Trail. It is a classic nature trail, with moderate inclines and occasional natural obstacles.

Although rated “easy” by California State Parks, this 2.2-mile out-and-back trail is often narrow, natural, and does change elevation by 200 feet. Dense vegetation may need navigation.

Forests, streams, birdsong, and occasional fog await, and be sure to look for the bat habitat viewing area along the way.

*Trail ratings vary and in this guide you will find information to make the best choice for your health and wellness goals.

Trails Rx

Enjoy the health benefits of time in nature on Six Bridges Trail at Butano State Park in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Why is this a healthful experience?

Rigorous hiking with cardiovascular benefits

A mental challenge, as you navigate irregular terrain

A vibrant and varied landscape, where trees, water, and wildlife come together

Trails Rx Benefits

Unleash the Healing Power of Nature

Trails Rx was established to help you improve your physical and mental health while enjoying time in nature. With guidance from Sempervirens Fund's Wellness Advisor, Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, we took inspiration from her work with Iowa's Hartman Reserve Nature Center.

The program promotes regular use of these trails, or parks near you, to integrate nature's healing benefits into daily life.

"Research increasingly finds that human health is improved by spending time in nature. Whether exercising, birdwatching, or spending quiet, mindful time outdoors, a host of physical and mental health benefits have been confirmed."

Volunteer Application 2024 Sempervirens Fund

Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller
MD, FACOG FABOIM Sempervirens Fund Wellness Advisor

DSC2514 2

What Does the Data Say?

Here are ways you can measure the benefits of enjoying the Six Bridges Trail:

Light Pace

2.5 miles per hour

Trail Length

2.2 miles

Metabolic Equivalent of Task

The amount of energy used while active compared to energy used sitting still.

3.5 METs

Time

53 minutes

Calories

Estimates vary by weight.

130 lbs

191 calories

165 lbs

242 calories

200 lbs

293 calories

235 lbs

345 calories

Moderate Pace

3.5 miles per hour

Trail Length

2.2 miles

Metabolic Equivalent of Task

The amount of energy used while active compared to energy used sitting still.

4.0 METs

Time

38 minutes

Calories

Estimates vary by weight.

130 lbs

175 calories

165 lbs

222 calories

200 lbs

269 calories

235 lbs

317 calories

Trail Benefits

Health Benefits of Unique Features along the Six Bridges Trail

Blood pressure and depression.

A study found that nature exposure is linked with a lower prevalence of both depression and high blood pressure, and that this effect is greatest with a minimum of 30 minutes of nature exposure per week. A short hike on Six Bridges Trail may improve both your mental and physical health.

20240503 Butano Trail Rx Orenda Randuch 19 1
20240503 Butano Trail Rx Orenda Randuch 17

Immune boost.

Time in nature boosts the immune system in ways that are still being explored. For example, we know that simply inhaling “phytoncides,” a component in the essential oils from trees, has been found to boost our level and activity of Natural Killer immune cells that circulate in our bloodstream to attack viruses, bacteria, and even tumor cells. Research has found that this benefit lasts for as long as 30 days out from a nature experience, so make it at least a monthly goal to visit the trails!

References: https://doi.org/10.1080/08923970600809439 and https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3

See more below in our Invitations section for suggestions on maximizing this experience.

Invitations

Body and Mind Contemplation

We believe each place has the potential to reward our senses and bring us peace and mindfulness. In the practice of Shinrin-yoku, or Forest Bathing, invitations are prompts we can give ourselves to invite an inward response to the nature we are experiencing. In this section we offer invitations you might respond to in your experience visiting the Six Bridges Trail.

Pleasures of Presence

For these invitations sit, stand, or rest comfortably against something solid and close your eyes or lower them to the ground.

Rest comfortably and slowly breathe, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice the air: the fragrance, the temperature, and the moisture.

Invitations for the Six Bridges Trail

As you approach this tree, practice some playful imagination. Perhaps you are attending a tea party or a grand ball with the candelabra before you. Are you a giant? A miniature being? What does it feel like to use your imagination among the trees?

You might spend some time jotting down or journaling what you noticed during this experience.

Learn more about Forest Bathing and check out a longer list of invitations to consider.

About the Park

Butano State Park

Off Highway 1, halfway between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, Butano State Park spans more than 4,000 acres in a secluded redwood-filled canyon.

The park typically has fewer visitors than neighboring parks such as Big Basin State Park or Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, giving Butano a serene, secluded feeling. Although much of the park is closed following the 2020 CZU fire, the park’s miles of popular hiking trails lead through dense redwood forest and up to high ridges offering hikers stunning views of the Pacific coast.

Sempervirens Fund began advocating for the protection of the land in 1921 and the forest was logged until the Park’s creation in 1957. Now lush with second- and third-growth redwoods, Sempervirens Fund has protected more than 1,500 acres in the Butano State Park planning area.

One of the park’s most distinctive features, the famous Candelabra Tree–a large redwood with branches resembling a candelabra–is on land recently added to the park.

What The Park Offers

Accessibility

Parking Lot

Seating benches

Drinking fountains

Restrooms

20240503 Butano Trail Rx Orenda Randuch 32
20240503 Butano Trail Rx Orenda Randuch 12
20240503 Butano Trail Rx Orenda Randuch 11
20240503 Butano Trail Rx Orenda Randuch 22
20240503 Butano Trail Rx Orenda Randuch 39

Getting There

Know before you go: Visit the trail page for the latest updates.

Butano State Park

The park is close to Highway 1, south of the town of Pescadero, off Butano Park Road.

Admission

$10 vehicle day-use fee

Accessibility

Although parking and facilities are limited, the trailhead is within a short walking distance. The trail is natural, often narrow, and does change elevation by 200 feet. Dense vegetation may need navigation. Forests, streams, birdsong, and an occasional fog await, and be sure to look for the bat habitat viewing area along the way. There is currently no drinking water available in the park.

Public Transportation

No known public transit available at this time

Stay Connected

CLOSE

PROTECT REDWOODS NOW

SPRING MATCHING GIFT CHALLENGE

Goal: $124,000 by June 30

Double your impact protecting redwoods! Every dollar counts towards safeguarding these majestic giants. Act now to ensure a thriving future for our redwood forests.

Match My Gift