San Mateo Beaches Activities

San Mateo County

Nearby Activities and Events

Mavericks Invitational Surfing Contest

Mavericks, ½ mile off shore of Pillar Point at Princeton-by-the-Sea, just north of Half Moon Bay
Contest held in the winter, when the waves are right
Mavericks Invitational

Pescadero Creek County Park

8,020 acres includes Memorial Park, Heritage Grove Park, and Sam McDonald Park.
Hiking trails, camping, some biking routes
Pescadero Creek Park

Pescadero Arts and Fun Festival

August TBA, 2018
Free festival featuring artists, entertainment, hand-crafted goods, food.
Pescadero Arts and Fun Festival

of Local Interest

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve map, San Mateo County, CA

San Mateo Coastal Hikes

Caution: Before setting out, always check with rangers that conditions are safe for your planned activitites.

Arroyo de los Frijoles Trail

The Arroyo de los Frijoles Trail is a 0.8 mile walk along the bluff between Bean Hollow Beach and Pebble Beach (also called Bean Hollow North). Several small bridges aid visitors in crossing small creeks. Along the way hikers will enjoy wild flowers, marine life, shore birds, tide pools, wildflowers. Much of the landscape along the trail displays native coastal plants.

Hikers who take a short side trail to explore tide pools along the way will find sea anemone, sea stars, urchins, and sea slugs. Looking skyward, onto the beach, and over the water for birds, visitors will see plenty of gulls, sandpipers, pelicans, and cormorants. In winter gray whales can be spotted out beyond the breakers on their annual migration. Harbor seals poke their heads up almost anywhere.

Tide Pools at Bean Hollow Beach, San Mateo County, CA

Tide Pools along Arroyo de los Frijoles Trail

North from Pomponio Beach

A trail leads north from the Pomponio Beach parking lot along the bluff. Hiking close to the edge of cliffs always warrants caution. Hikers are advised to stay well back from the edge. This half-mile trail offers wonderful views of the ocean. There is no beach access.

Exploring San Gregorio Caves

If you explore north along San Gregorio Beach you will come to a series of fairly large caves scooped out of the sandstone bluff by waves. Several are available even at high tide, but the best ones are only accessible during low tide.

cave at San Gregorio Beach, San Mateo County, CA

cave at San Gregorio Beach, San Mateo County, CA

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

The boundaries of Pescadero State Beach include 243 acres that comprise the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve. Visitors to the Preserve will find a variety of habitats, including freshwater wetlands, brackish water marsh, a tidal estuary, and woodland.

Birders will enjoy watching great blue herons, snowy egrets and more than 200 other species of birds.

Explore the Sequoia Audubon Trail

Sequoia Audubon Trail, Pescadero Marsh Natural Area, San Mateo County, CA

Three sections of trail wind through the Pescadero Marsh. The North Pond Trail has trailheads on the north side of the bridge over Pescadero Creek and at the northern-most of the three Pescadero Beach parking lots. Along the 1-mile long path is an observation platform on a hilltop. The trail is closed March 15 to September 1 during nesting time.

A second trail leads from the bridge along the north side of Pescadero Creek. Several alternate trails along the way offer slightly different views. The out-and-back trail is about a 1.5 mile round trip.

Pescadero Marsh Natural Area, San Mateo County, CA

Butano Tail

A third trail is best accessed from a small parking lot on the east side of Highway 1, opposite Pescadero Beach's southern-most parking lot. This trail leads around North Butano Marsh, following old levees part of the way.

Guided Natural Preserve Walks

Docents from the Coastside State Parks Association lead nature walks through the marsh twice a month. The 2-hour walks are held on the first Sunday of the month at 10:00 AM and the third Sunday of the month at 1:00 PM. Meet at the middle Pescadero Beach parking lot (immediately south of the bridge and a quarter mile north of the Pescadero Road intersection).

The Coastside State Parks Association works to "increase access, enjoyment and appreciation of the natural and cultural heritage of the San Mateo Coast." They support 15 state parks from Gray Whale Cove to A?o Nuevo.

Fishing the San Mateo County Coast

Fishermen set out to fish the San Mateo coast for striped bass, surf smelt, rockfish, California halibut, jacksmelt, and a variety of surfperch.

Anglers seeking striped bass are challenged by the rough surf and a seemingly diminished number of fish. Fishermen prefer the safer beaches along the coast, such as Pomponio. Experienced fishermen scout out their fishing spots from the bluffs, watching the birds or for signs of bait fish. A favorite scouting spot is the Muscle Rock parking lot, north of San Gregorio.

Surfing the San Mateo County Coast

Rocks, rough surf and dangerous rip currents make surfing the beaches along the San Mateo coast hazardous. Experienced surfers, however, are often seen out on the waves. Pescadero Beach has some good waves at the north end, but the rocks near shore require extra caution. Pomponio Beach is favored by many surfers when the break is right. San Gregorio has fewer rocks, but the surf isn't as good as at neighboring beaches.

Pebble Beach Rocks

The pebbles that gave Pebble Beach its name are fascinating to examine. Among them you will find examples of moonstones, lydian stone, chalcedony, jasper, agate, porphyry, and sardonyx.

Pebbles on Pebble Beach, San Mateo County, CA

The honeycomb sandstone is called tafoni and is caused by the erosion of salt water on the rock.

Tafoni at Pebble Beach, San Mateo County, CA

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

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