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Pacifica wants to get something off its chest. It’s got a lot more going on than a laid-back…

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Pacifica wants to get something off its chest. It’s got a lot more going on than a laid-back vibe, good surf, and a beachfront Taco Bell. It’s got a hidden waterfall back in the canyons east of town. And it’s best in winter after rains. San Pedro Valley County Park is home to Brooks Falls, a delicate, slinky waterfall that drops three tiers and 175 feet. For waterfall views and a gorgeous Pacific vista, go on a 2.5-mile loop hike. The trail begins with a steady climb through a eucalyptus forest beside San Pedro Creek, a steelhead spawning grounds.

You won’t get closer than a couple hundred yards from the falls, but the canyon flanking it adds some impressive drama, as if you’re in a slice of hidden Hawaii (without the warmth!). If you’re short on time, a 1.6-mile out-and-back hike takes you to the waterfall viewing bench. But we recommend continuing past the bench for about ten minutes, which leads up to the ridge for a fantastic view of Pacifica and the Pacific, especially in late afternoon when the sun is low and glistening across the ocean. From the ridge, loop back down the Montara Mountain Trail with more panoramic views over town.

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San Pedro Valley Park is 2 miles east of Hwy. 1 in Pacifica (map). There’s a $6 parking fee. From the parking area take the Old Trout Farm/Brooks Creek Trail southwest. Bear right at two forks continuing on the Brooks Creek Trail heading uphill. After 0.8 mile you’ll reach the viewing bench. You can turn around here for a 1.6-mile hike, or continue uphill to the ridge and down Montara Mountain Trail for a 2.5-mile loop hike. Note: the parking gate closes at 5:00 p.m. You can also park outside the gate. No dogs.

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