Most trips outside of the Bay Area involve a drive over Pacheco Pass. We have whizzed past Dinosaur Point many times and often thought of pulling off to see it. However, we never have… until now!
Dinosaur Point is located at the end of Dinosaur Point Road in Hollister; it is a boat ramp for those wishing to explore the reservoir from the water. Parking is $10/day and a boat inspection is necessary.
To get to Pacheco SP from 152, turn East onto Dinosaur Point Road and then make a right into the entrance, right before the gate. The parking fee is $10 at this lot as well. If you do not have an annual pass or cash, you should make your check payable to Fatjo Corporation. The organization is a non-profit that supports the park.
Paula Fatjo was the great-great-granddaughter of Francisco Pacheco. She inherited the land but was forced to sell much of her ranch to the State in 1963 when they began construction of the San Luis Reservoir. She moved her ranch and family adobe to the top of the pass to live out her years. You can still see remnants of the adobe. She left her remaining land to the State upon her death in 1992.
The park is often overlooked and was close to empty on the Sunday we enjoyed our hike. The Eastern section of the park is home to a wind turbine farm and contains only a few roads and no trails. All 28 miles of trails are open to mountain biking. We did a 10.4-mile, moderate loop around the outside of the park.
We chose the grueling 500 foot climb to Spike’s Peak, a 2.25 mile one-way trek from the parking lot. The peak provides views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Central Valley, and, if you are lucky, the Sierra Nevada. From there, we headed to the South Boundary Trail which is an exercise in navigation. Animal use trails can easily be confused with the actual trail. Cleary, not many people take the trail. Luckily, if you lose the trail you can follow the boundary fence.
The park is home to many small “lakes”. The ranchers that have operated in the area created small dams to form watering holes for their cattle. Right now, the lakes are nearly or completely empty but some ducks still call the park home.
Next time we are in need of quiet time, we will certainly return to Pacheco State Park, maybe with our bikes.
- Kelly Lake – Henry W. Coe State Park – 24 miles, strenuous, 2 days
- Bell Station to Raven Pond – Henry W. Coe State Park – 22 miles, strenuous, 2 days
For more information on and adventures in state parks, visit our California State Park Guide.