Open Space & Parks

Due to inclement weather and hazards, our open space preserves may close or partially restrict access without notification.

View from shoreline out over the wooden dock of Boronda Lake in Foothills Nature Preserve

The City of Palo Alto has almost 4,000 acres of open space to explore, recreate, and relax in. Whether you are looking for a place to picnic with your family, a site for a wedding, or trails that will help you to escape to nature, there is a broad assortment of open space areas to enjoy!

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Open Space

The mission of Open Space is to protect and interpret the resources and wildlife entrusted to Palo Alto for the enjoyment of future generations.  The preserves offer trails from the marshes of the bay to the redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains.

  • The Baylands Preserve has some of the last remaining salt marsh and mud flat habitats on the west coast. It offers excellent birding year round. 
  • Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is a beautiful mixture of rolling grassland and broadleaf evergreen forest. Each area of the preserve has something different: views of the bay, a quiet grassland stroll, or a snooze by the lake. 
  • Foothills Nature Preserve is a 1,400-acre preserve with rugged chaparral, woodland, fields, and a lake. Hike on 15 miles of trail, have a picnic,  or enjoy spectacular views of the bay from Vista Hill. Effective December 17, 2020 Foothills Nature Preserve will be open to the General Public.


Park Services handles the maintenance of 162 developed acres of urban park lands. Individual parks range in size from under two acres to large community parks such as Rinconada Park, Mitchell Park, and Greer Park. Besides maintaining urban parks, Parks Services handles landscape maintenance of libraries, community centers, business districts and utility sub-stations.

Park Services maintenance programs include the maintenance of landscape plant materials, irrigation systems, turf management, tennis courts, soccer fields, softball fields, baseball fields, playground equipment, picnic facilities, dog runs, basketball courts, and a lawn bowling green. Park Services also maintains school athletic fields and tennis courts at all elementary and middle school sites.