Pescadero Creek State Park
This hike begins in Portola Redwoods State Park, but quickly enters Pescadero Creek County Park. Travel steadily upwards from the deep redwood forest along Peters Creek to the second growth forest on the top of Butano Ridge before returning along an old road through still more forest. Leave your sunglasses behind as usual.
Park your car about 150 yards south / downhill from the visitor center, and continue walking down the road. Follow the signs directing you to the Iverson's Cabin site. There are a few signed, small trails heading off to the right that return to the main route after a hundred yards or so. Follow the paved road past where it turns into dirt through an area with a few duplex-style residences and some physical infrastructure for the park. Continue past the unsatisfying Iverson's Cabin ruins a few hundred yards to a junction with the Portola Trail. There's a large sign here with the usual tick and mountain lion warnings.
Continue up through a dense forest of second growth redwood for about 1.5 miles to Portola's junction with the Butano Ridge Loop trail. Turn left on Butano Ridge Loop to go uphill another 1-1/2 miles and 1,000' to a huge sandstone rock that stands out among the dense mixed forest of redwood, California bay, and Douglas fir. This stretch has a lot of switchbacks, but an unrelenting gain in elevation.
Go 2 miles or so on or near the top of Butano Ridge to the northwest along the old fire road while enjoying the easy hiking and deep forest. There are no views despite being on top of a regional high point.
The Butano Loop Trail heads downhill to the Old Haul Road after the 2 miles on top through a very dark redwood forest. I didn't notice any old growth trees, but the woods here are dark nonetheless. Old Haul is indeed an old road that is still maintained as a fire road, but mainly serves as a conduit for hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers between Butano County Park and Portola State Park. Take its gentle ups and downs for about 4 miles back to its intersection with the Portola Trail. Return to the parking area by going left back up your original route past the Iverson's Cabin site.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
This is a moderately difficult hike.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.