Rules & Regulations

Rules and Regulations(PDF, 391KB)

Municipal Code

Palo Alto Open Space preserves have ordinances and regulations that are designed to keep everyone safe and to have an enjoyable experience. Below are general reminders for 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 Nature Preserve (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.

Hours

8 AM. - Sunset
(Please see Open Space Hours(PDF, 128KB) for specific closing times)

General Reminders

  • Dogs must be on a leash and under physical control by an able-bodied person at all times.
    • Foothills Nature Preserve exception: Dogs are not permitted anywhere in the Foothills Nature Preserve on weekends or city holidays. Dogs are only permitted on weekdays.
  • 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 every day from 8:00 a.m. to a specific time based on sunset. Last entry to the preserves is one half hour before closing time. Closing times are posted at the entry to the preserves and on all bulletin boards. 
  • Groups of 25 or more (children included) must have a permit to use the preserves. 
  • 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.
  • Bicycles may not be transported through, over, or around Gate D in either direction in any way between Pearson - Arastradero Preserve and Foothills Nature Preserve. Foot traffic only is permitted through that gate as part of the Bay to Ridge Trail.

E-Bikes

Bicycles and coasting devices are permitted or prohibited as follows:

Conventional bicycle

(non-motorized or electric)

Class 1, 2, and 3 electric bicycle

Non-electric coasting devices (incl. skateboards, roller skates/ blades, scooters)

Electric powered coasting devices


Open Space Preserves:


(Baylands,
Esther Clark,
Foothills,
Pearson- Arastradero)

Permitted in designated areas within Pearson- Arastradero Preserve, Esther Clark Park, and Baylands Nature Preserve; prohibited elsewhere.

Permitted on paved trails; prohibited elsewhere (including unpaved trails)

Permitted on paved, multi-use bike paths; prohibited elsewhere.

Permitted on paved roads and trails at Baylands Nature Preserve; prohibited elsewhere.


Parks

Permitted on paved and unpaved trails; prohibited elsewhere (including courts, playgrounds, and landscaped areas).

Permitted on paved and unpaved trails; prohibited elsewhere (including courts, playgrounds, and landscaped areas).

Permitted on paved and unpaved trails; prohibited elsewhere (including courts, playgrounds, landscaped areas).

Permitted on paved and unpaved trails; prohibited elsewhere (including courts, playgrounds, and landscaped areas).

Definitions:

Electric powered coasting devices” means skateboards, scooters, one-wheels, hoverboards, Segways, and other similar devices that are powered or power-assisted by an electric motor. This does not include electric wheelchairs.

Conventional coasting devices” means skateboards, scooters, and other similar devices that are not powered or power-assisted by an electric motor. This does not include wheelchairs.

Electric bicycle” means any of three classes of electric bicycles, as defined by the California Vehicle Code:

  • A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
  • A “class 2 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
  • A “class 3 electric bicycle,” or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.

"Trail” means any established public way within city open space nature preserves and parks which appear on current city maps, city open space nature preserve maps, planning documents, trail guides and/or those trails marked with city directional signs. Trails include, but are not limited to fire roads, service roads, paths, pathways and levees.

Paved” means any designated road or trail composed of asphalt or concrete, as designated on current city open space preserve maps.

Unpaved” means designated road or trail composed of base rock, gravel, decomposed granite, or dirt, as designated on current city open space preserve maps.

Note: Palo Alto open space trail maps illustrate paved and unpaved trails. Examples: Arastradero Creek Trail and Wildhorse Road (Foothills Nature Preserve) are considered unpaved.