If your idea of a great winter wander is walking among coastal redwoods without encountering many other people, then head to the San Mateo Coast’s Butano State Park. Get an early start for the 9.5-mile Canyon Loop hike, one of the park’s classics. From the visitor center take the Jackson Flats Trail to Canyon Trail.
Banana slugs and California newts are all over these trails during winter and especially after rains. Also all over: redwoods and Douglas fir! Keep hiking above Little Butano Creek and eventually you’ll emerge onto the ridge. Soak in some sunshine if you’ve got it, and bask in the beauty of giant second-growth redwoods on surrounding hillsides.
Return via Indian, Doe Ridge, Goat Hill, and Año Nuevo Trails. Combining these gives you fantastic views of the surrounding hillsides (the calypso orchid should be flowering in full force from February to April) and more redwoods. Finish on Año Nuevo Trail, which descends by switchbacks to the visitor center.
This is a fantastic all-day hike. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for the trail. If you want to extend the trip, campsites are available throughout the park and can be reserved by contacting the park or through their website. The park has a $10 day-use fee which can also be used at neighboring parks if you choose to visit multiple parks in one day. Pick up a trail map at the visitor center or use the online brochure. No dogs.