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El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve

Rare Sandstone Formations and Old-Growth Redwoods

Just off Skyline Boulevard in Woodside, the El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve is brimming with opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding across nearly 3,000-acres of dense redwood forest and chaparral-dotted hillsides. It may surprise visitors to this lush, green preserve that it was once clear-cut in the late 1800’s. If you look carefully, you may see lingering signs of logging—great reminders of why preserving and restoring the forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains is so crucial. Sempervirens Fund expanded El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve in 2012 which now has the largest grove of old-growth redwoods in the district. That lushness makes the preserve especially nice for hikers in the warm summer months. You can admire many types of trees, from buckeyes to Redwoods, while hiking in their cool shade. Along the way, you can visit a rare Tafoni sandstone formation and return along the preserve’s namesake creekside trail.

photo by David Baron.

Tafoni Trail to El Corte de Madera Creek Trail

To begin your journey on this moderate 3.5-mile roundtrip hike, park in the Skegg’s Point lot, carefully cross Skyline Boulevard and enter the preserve through gate #CM01. Just a little ways down the path, keep right at the split to stay on Tafoni Trail. As you follow the trail, any noise from Skyline Boulevard will quickly be replaced by the sounds of the forest. A mile down the trail, a small path on your right will lead you through madrones to the intricate honeycombs of the Tafoni sandstone formation. Once you’ve returned to Tafoni Trail, hike between redwoods, tanoaks, madrones, and huckleberry for .8 miles until you reach the trail junction. Head right onto a nice, easy stretch of El Corte de Madera Creek Trail. Listen for the trickle of the creek and look for starflower, wild rose, big leaf maple, and California bays to join the forest. After 1.4 miles, you’ll meet up with Tafoni Trail again. Turn left onto Tafoni Trail to follow it back to Skyline Boulevard.

El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve

Plan Your Hike

Address: El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve, Skyline Boulevard CA-35, Woodside, CA 94062

Hours: The preserve opens half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset.

Directions: click here for Google maps directions

Parking: For Tafoni Trail and El Corte de Madera Trail, park at the Caltrans Skeggs Point Parking Lot on Skyline Boulevard, about 8.5 miles south of Highway 92. Note: This parking lot can fill up quickly on weekends, so plan to start your hike early!

Park Activities

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding

Park Amenities

  • Restrooms


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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Goal: $124,000 by June 30

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