Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is a beautiful mixture of rolling savanna grassland and broadleaf evergreen forest. It varies in elevation from 275 feet in the northeast to 775 feet in the southwest. Wildlife abounds on the preserve and it is not uncommon to see deer, bobcats, coyotes, and many varieties of birds. Each area of the preserve has something different to offer, whether it is a view of the bay, a quiet walk through the grasslands, or a snooze by the lake.
These are a few of the rules that enable everyone to have an enjoyable experience in this nature preserve:
Park only in designated parking spaces at the parking lot.
Dogs are required to be on leash and under physical control at all times.
Fires, barbecues and smoking are prohibited anywhere in the preserve.
Stay on marked trails. You may not go off trail.
No hunting or camping.
Helmets are required for all bicyclists.
No collecting of plants or animals.
No remote control devices, including devices such as boats, planes, quadcopters, drones.
Some trails are closed seasonally due to wet weather. Please see the Seasonal Trail Status page for more information.
Hiking, Biking and Equestrian Trails: The Pearson-Arastradero Preserve has 10.25 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Most of the trails (6.6 miles) are open year-round. Some trails (3.6 miles) are designated as "seasonal" and are closed at the trailheads after heavy rain. When the ground is firm enough to ride and hike on without causing damage, the trails are re-opened by preserve rangers. See the Seasonal Trail Status page for current information.
Please be courteous to other trail users. Always yield to equestrians. Bikes must also yield to hikers. When in a group, avoid blocking the trail. Help preserve the land by staying on trails.
Lake and Fishing: Arastradero Lake is a twenty minute hike from the parking lot and is open all year to fishing. All California Fish and Game rules apply. Boats, flotation devices, and swimming are not permitted.
In the 1970s, Palo Alto purchased the Arastradero property (533 acres and three buildings) from Arastra Ltd. for $7,475,000 after the city amended its Comprehensive Plan to include most of the foothills in the Open Space Controlled Development. In addition, restrictions were imposed that would limit development to an average of ten acres per dwelling. In 1981 the space was dedicated as park land, with “...emphasis on the natural and open space amenities of the land and sensitivity to the fragile foothills ecology.”
Arastradero Preserve was renamed Enid Pearson-Arastradero Preserve in 2004 to honor former city council member Enid Pearson who was instrumental in the passage of a measure in 1965 that prohibits Palo Alto from selling any park land without voters’ approval.
Value of Volunteering in Open Space The City of Palo Alto contracts with Grassroots Ecology and Save the Bay as stewardship partners. Based on this analysis by Grassroots Ecology, the city gets a return of almost double its investment in the contract.