The San Mateo County Parks Department incentivizes us to take a hike or more in its parks in an original way.
I gotta get out of this house and do something new!
San Mateo hike

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” – Mary Davis

After many months of shelter in place and local events canceled, we’re all getting a bit bored of repeatedly doing the same, safe outside activities. But we all desire to get out and stretch our legs while staying away from Covid. And finding new, virus-free activities is becoming increasingly more challenging. San Mateo County Parks Department has come to the rescue!

They have a fun and family-friendly way to get us moving outside. Their “Take A Hike Challenge 2020-2021” encourages participants to explore seven park trails in the county and, if they’re ambitious, earn some cool prizes.
Hikers who complete all four to seven trails and take selfies or group photos at designated landmarks on the trail (indicated with a star on the Challenge maps) can submit their photos to earn prizes at each level. This includes goodies such as mugs, sunglasses, and picnic blankets.
According to the Parks Department, the county searched for a way to help people get out and active while aligning with Covid safety recommendations. To date, people of all ages, from newborns riding in baby carriers to a couple in their 90’s, are participating.
While all the trails offer beautiful scenery, some hold noteworthy views.
  • San Bruno Mountain Park Trail in Daly City, close to San Francisco, has spectacular skyline views of the city, spanning from San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. With beginner hills, this unpaved trail is also a great beginning hike for active kids.
  • Sawyer Camp Trail, along Crystal Springs Reservoir with the green Santa Cruz Mountains in the background, has a paved, flat trail, with walkers, runners, and cyclists. You’re more likely to catch sightings of wild turkeys and families of deer along the trail during morning hours.
Note that some locations have $6 vehicle entrance fees (San Bruno Mountain and Junipero Serra Parks) and some allow leashed-dogs on their trails (Pillar Point Bluff, Quarry Park, San Mateo hikeand Junipero Serra Park) but be sure to check each park’s web page for more information). That way the whole family can stay active together!
While the Take A Hike Challenge prize deadline is March 31, 2021, the trails aren’t going anywhere and you can hike them anytime. And the current challenge is just a warm-up as San Mateo County plans to run a second challenge later this year.
Most of the parks are located close to Highway 280 or along the coast. Maps, hours, and participation directions are available on the San Mateo County Park Department website at
Happy trails!
Lynn Auslander

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