Group with Black Mountain in the Distance

GENERAL FAQ'S

What is the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District?
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, called “Midpen” for short, is a regional greenbelt system in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Founded in 1972 by voter initiative, Midpen was expanded twice and today includes northwestern Santa Clara County, southern and coastal San Mateo County, and a small part of Santa Cruz County.

What does Midpen do?
Midpen acquires land and preserves a regional greenbelt of open space land, protects and restores the natural environment, and provides opportunities for ecologically-sensitive public enjoyment and education.

Where are Midpen’s preserves and how many are there?

Midpen owns more than 60,000 acres of land in 26 open space preserves, stretching from San Carlos to Los Gatos, and from the Pacific Coast to the San Francisco Bay. Preserves include redwood, oak, and fir forests, chaparral-covered hillsides, riparian corridors, grasslands, and wetlands along the Bay. Midpen’s preserve system is of diverse and unparalleled beauty in one of the largest metropolitan areas of the country.

Preserves range in size from 55 to over 18,000 acres, and are open to the public free of charge, 365 days a year. Visitors will find over 225 miles of trails, ranging from easy to challenging terrain. An interactive map of our preserve system, and maps and other information about each preserve, are available here.

 How are Midpen’s preserves different from parks?

Like parks, Midpen’s preserves offer recreational opportunities to the public.  Our preserves have trails for hikers, bikers, runners, equestrians, and dog walkers. Unlike parks, Midpen’s preserves are less developed. There are generally no garbage cans, for instance, and there may be limited parking, restrooms, and water. Midpen encourages users to leave a light “footprint” on the land, and attempts to balance recreational uses with habitat restoration and conservation.

 How is Midpen governed and administered?

Midpen is governed by a seven-member elected Board of Directors. Each Board member is elected to serve a four-year term and represents a geographic ward of approximately equal populations.

Midpen has a staff of over 100 employees. The administrative office is located in Los Altos of El Camino Real.  In addition to its staff in Los Altos, Midpen has a field staff of rangers and maintenance employees that are based in three field offices: one in the Skyline area, one in the Foothills area, and a southern outpost near Sierra Azul OSP.

 How is Midpen funded?

Funding is provided by a small share of the annual total property tax revenues collected within Midpen’s boundaries. This amounts to about 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value. In our current fiscal year, property taxes provided approximately $33 million of revenue. Other revenue sources are federal and state grants, interest, rental income, donations, land gifts, and note issues.

WHAT TO DO 

Where are good places for me to go hiking with my children?

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve – Stevens Creek Nature Trail
Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve – Alpine Pond/Daniels Nature Center
Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve – Horseshoe Lake
Docent-led activities have many children-friendly hikes, check out the calendar here.

 Where are good places for people with disabilities to visit?

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve - Has benches, two wheelchair-accessible parking spaces, and wheelchair- accessible restroom at parking lot.
Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve - Wheelchair-accessible trails, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and restrooms at Deer Hollow Farm.
Ravenswood Open Space Preserve -  Has benches, wheelchair-accessible trail.
Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve - Some trails are wheelchair-accessible, wheelchair- accessible restroom, benches on trail, and wheelchair-accessible parking.
For more information visit the Accessible Trails page.

 Can you recommend a good beginner’s hike?

Ravenswood Open Space Preserve - Includes a bicycle and pedestrian trail along the levee surrounding the marsh, a 12-car wheelchair-accessible parking lot, and two wheelchair-accessible observation decks. The marsh attracts a variety of migrating birds.

DOGS 

 What are the regulations for bringing a dog? 

Visitors may have no more than three (3) dogs per person.
Dogs are not allowed in any District water areas, including streams or ponds.
Dogs must be on a leash 6’ long or less. Self-retracting leashes are allowed with a maximum extended length of 25 feet.
Do not allow dogs to harass wildlife or other visitors.
Please keep the preserves healthy for wildlife and dogs by bagging and packing out dog waste.
For more information visit the Dog Access page.

Why is a leash required?

Protecting Wildlife — The preserves are a sanctuary for many types of wildlife, with some habitats offering unique breeding grounds. Dogs roaming freely, or simply wandering in and out of vegetation can disturb these creatures.
Keeping your Dog Safe — A leash prevents a dog from accidents like getting lost, falling, or possibly being injured by a fast-moving bicyclist.
Other Users — Not all visitors enjoy dogs. Some people are afraid of them and can become highly stressed when approached by a strange dog.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

How can I volunteer to help maintain the trails or otherwise get involved in District work?

There are many opportunities each month for individuals or groups to participate in a wide variety of projects. No previous experience is required, and the projects range from native plant seed collection to trail maintenance. To find out more, please see the Get Involved page.

Can I volunteer with Midpen? 

Yes! Over 500 volunteers help Midpen each year, participating in everything from one-day projects to ongoing natural history education, community outreach, trail patrol, maintenance, and restoration programs. For more information or to sign up to volunteer, visit the volunteer page. ​