Rules and Regulations

Palo Alto Open Space preserves have ordinances and regulations that are designed to keep everyone safe and to have an enjoyable experience. Below are some of the most common rules that need to be followed. Failure to observe these rules makes you subject to citation by the rangers.

Feel free to call Foothills Park (650-329-2423) or Baylands (650-617-3156) for clarification of any of these rules.

Just remember that you are in a nature preserve. Leave it better than you found it for others to enjoy after you.

  • Dogs must be on a leash and under physical control by an able-bodied person at all times. 
      • Foothills Park exception: Dogs are not permitted anywhere in Foothills Park on weekends or city holidays. Dogs are only permitted on weekdays.
      • For more information, see our Dogs page.
  • All bicyclists must wear a helmet.
  • Stay on marked trails. You may not go off trail. Learn the difference between an animal trail and a people trail.
  • Preserves are open 8:00 to sunset every day. Last entry to the preserves is one half hour before closing time. Open hours are posted in several places around all the preserves and also posted here.
  • Groups of 25 or more (children included) must have a permit to use the preserves. See the Groups and Special Event Permits and the Rentals and Reservations pages.
  • Barbecue with charcoal only in the provided barbecues. Portable barbecues are not permitted. No wood fires.
  • Coasting devices such as skateboards and scooters are not permitted.
  • Remote-controlled devices are not permitted.
  • Do not harass or feed wildlife.
  • Collecting plants and animals is not permitted. This includes picking wildflowers, mushrooms, berries, leaves, branches, feathers, and so on.
  • No kite flying in the Baylands due to its proximity to Palo Alto Airport.  
  • Clean up after your animals. Dispose of the pet waste in a proper receptacle -- don't leave it by the side of the trail.
  • No smoking anywhere in the Open Space nature preserves, effective 10/9/2013.
  • Palo Alto residents and their accompanied guests only are permitted in Foothills Park. Exception: Non-resident hikers (and hikers only) may enter from Pearson Arastradero Preserve or from Los Trancos Open Space Preserve as part of the Bay to Ridge Trail.
  • Bicycles may not be transported through, over, or around Gate D in either direction in any way between Pearson Arastradero Preserve and Foothills Park. Foot traffic only is permitted through that gate as part of the Bay to Ridge Trail.

To see the full ordinances, go to the Municipal Code, then navigate to Title 22. To see the regulations, see Park and Open Space Regulations.

Last Updated: Oct 3, 2017