The park had been restricted to Palo Alto residents and their guests for 51 years.
Foothills Park has been around since 1965. It’s a beautiful open space park and nature reserve spanning 1,400 acres. But in 1969, the park implemented restrictions, allowing only residents and their guests to enter. It wasn’t until earlier this month on December 17 that the park opened up to the general public, for the first time.
The decision came after a September lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, who claimed the restriction infringed upon people’s rights and was a remnant of a history of racial discrimination in the city.
“The ban on non-residents traces its roots to an era when racial discrimination in and around the City was open and notorious,” the suit stated in its introduction. “It is long past time to relegate this unlawful exclusion to the dustbin of history.”
And that’s exactly what Palo Alto did – Foothills Park is now open to the general public so that people in the surrounding communities can also enjoy the reserve’s natural beauty!
Went for a picnic and walk in Foothills Park today, now open to the general public. The “residents only” sign is gone. The deer were foraging. People out for a stroll. The ducks were still enjoying the lake. My dog was after the birds. Palo Alto is a little bit better today. pic.twitter.com/FivfOEdmCD
— fadrian (@adrianfine) December 18, 2020
The park’s 1,400 acres provides miles and miles of hiking trails, many of which have been made one-way routes for visitor safety. Hiking routes vary in length anywhere from 0.32 miles to 7.39 miles, making it a great place for families and avid hikers alike!
Visitors can explore rugged chaparral, woodlands, fields, streams and a lake, and enjoy all the local wildlife. Foothills Park also offers lots of areas for picnics, a seasonal campground, and even fishing for visitors with a license.
There is no admission fee to enter the park, but capacity will be limited to 750 people for the first 90 days of being open to the public. After 90 days, the capacity will increase to 1,000 people.
Bicycles are allowed on paved roads only (helmets required), and dogs on leash are only allowed on weekdays (no weekends or city holidays). All visitors must wear a mask and practice social distancing. Find more information about the park guidelines here.
Location: 11799 Page Mill Road, Los Altos Hills
Hours: 8am – Sunset
[Featured image: Sruthi R./Yelp]