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Butano State Park

The Wild Red Rhododendrons of Butano State Park

Butano State Park is one of our favorite parks because it’s typically less crowded with visitors but is packed with redwood forest majesty. It’s so lush, visitors today may be surprised to learn the forest was logged until 1957 when Sempervirens Fund helped create the park. Since then, Sempervirens Fund has protected over 1,500 more acres in the Butano State Park planning area.

In August and September 2020, the CZU Lightening Fire Complex burned more than 86,000 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is one of the many parks that has been affected. Although much of Butano State Park is currently closed due to damage caused by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires until further notice, several trails are open including Mill Ox and Butano Fire Road. Sempervirens Fund is working with California State Parks to help support the immediate and long-term needs of the Park. You can read more about redwoods recovery and restoration here and throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Mill Ox Trail to Butano Fire Road

One of Butano State Park’s many beauties is best seen in spring—the park’s wild red rhododendrons. This stunning wildflower tree grows along the Butano Fire Road and can be seen on a moderately strenuous, approximately 6.5-mile roundtrip hike. To start your hike, drive into Butano State Park. The entrance to the Mill Ox Trail is past the kiosk/office on the entrance road and on your left. Look for a parking turnout and small footbridge across the creek. Hike up Mill Ox Trail through dense redwood forest to the Butano Fire Road. Turn right and hike about two miles up the road to the abandoned airstrip, enjoying the wide-open vistas of the coastal mountain range. In the spring, the rhododendrons are typically visible along the trail on your left a few hundred yards before the hairpin turn on the Fire Road near the airstrip. To return, hike back along the Butano Fire Road to the Jackson Flats Trail and loop back to the Mill Ox Trail.

Butano State Park Wild Rhododendrons by David Prasad
Butano State Park Wild Rhododendrons by David Prasad

Plan Your Hike

Address: Butano State Park, 1500 Cloverdale Road, Pescadero, California 94060

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Directions: click here for Google maps directions

Park Activities

  • Hiking
  • Nature & Wildlife Viewing
  • Guided Tours

Park Amenities

  • Picnic Areas
  • Marine Education Center
  • Natural History Exhibit
  • Bookstore
  • Theater


Throughout the year, Sempervirens Fund holds a variety of volunteer events, including invasive species removal, trail clean ups, and more! Check out our Volunteer Page for more information.

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