Welcome fall! The leaves are beginning to change color, but the warm days will follow us into October. Get outside and discover new trails to trek, or look for bats and ghosts in open space. Read on for the latest news, and ways to enjoy your Midpen preserves!
Enjoy the New Oljon Trail
The Oljon Trail is now open at El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. The 1.7-mile single-track trail winds along a forested ridgeline of redwoods, Douglas firs and tanoaks, passing impressively large madrones and Tafoni sandstone outcroppings, too. Look for signs of historic logging in the form of stumps of old-growth redwoods surrounded by fairy rings of younger redwoods that have sprouted around them. Whether hiking, biking or horseback riding, this new trail allows you to do many different loop routes in the preserve without having to get onto roads, making for a safer and more enjoyable experience.
Demystifying “Spooky” Bats
This Halloween let’s celebrate all the wonderful things that bats provide to people and the planet! Bats are the most diverse group of mammals in the world, representing roughly 20% of all mammal species that exist today. They are the only group of mammals that have developed powered flight (gliding doesn’t count!). Bats reduce insect populations, spread nutrients that help plants grow and provide a food source for nocturnal predators, like owls.
Don't touch bats — for the safety of both you and the bats. Some bats may carry diseases, like rabies, that can be transmitted to humans. Seek immediate medical attention if you come in contact with a bat. Humans can also spread diseases, like white-nose syndrome, to bats. For these reasons, it’s best to admire bats from a safe distance.
The Ghost of Bear Creek Redwoods!
A small ghost has been found lurking in the tree tops at Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve near the end of the Redwood Springs Trail, perched high up in a gnarled old-growth redwood and looking down upon preserve visitors.
Don’t be scared – this ghost turns out to be some unusual white branches known as albino redwoods. These branches don't contain the chlorophyll that typically gives needles their green color and ability to photosynthesize – instead, they get their nutrients from the host tree. There are only about 450 documented albino redwoods, making this occurrence quite rare. Hike the Redwood Springs Trail and hunt for this friendly ghost near the end.
Ravenswood Bay Trail Project Kickoff
If you’ve visited Rancho San Antonio during prime time, you know that parking can be difficult. Because it is located so close to many communities and main roads, with a large network of trails and wonderful opportunities to connect with nature, Rancho is by far our most popular preserve.
To better understand the underlying causes for the parking and access challenges and to develop effective strategies to address them, Midpen is beginning a Parking and Transportation Demand Analysis. While the study is underway, Midpen, in partnership with other local public agency stakeholders, will be implementing short-term measures to alleviate congestion over the next two years.
Help Keep our Trails Clean
Midpen champions the "leave no trace” ethic on the lands we manage on your behalf. There are no trash cans in the preserves or parking lots — visitors are asked to carry out any trash they generate. This includes dog waste which, when left on the trail, can harm wildlife or allow bacteria to be carried by stormwater into nearby streams. Unfortunately, some users leave bags of dog waste behind: along the trail, at the trail head or thrown into pit toilets where they must be manually removed by staff before cleaning.
We realize driving home with a bag of poop isn’t the best way to end a day on the trails. As part of a new pilot program, dog waste receptacles have been installed at the following parking areas: Pulgas Ridge, Fremont Older, Lower Windy Hill and Thornewood preserves. The success of this pilot program is dependent on preserve visitors. Please help keep our trails, shoes and waterways clean by bagging dog waste and disposing in the new bins (or packing it out)!
Mountain Lion Update
Rancho San Antonio Preserve reopened August 29 after a temporary closure due to a mother mountain lion and three adolescent cubs that had become habituated to people. This mountain lion family has moved to less used areas of the preserve on their own. Our open space areas are mountain lion habitat and, typically, they avoid people so well that sightings are rare. Staff are monitoring the preserve and will take further action with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as necessary.
Midpen's mission is to protect the natural environment and provide public access, and our goal is for wildlife and visitors to safely share the preserves. If you see a mountain lion, DO NOT RUN; make yourself large and loud, slowly back away and report the sighting to a Midpen ranger at 650-691-2165.
A Huge "Thank You" to Our Volunteers!
Nearly 1,000 Midpen docents and volunteers contribute over 20,000 hours of service each year – pulling invasive plants, leading hikes, monitoring the trails, guiding school groups and so much more. We couldn’t do it without them, and every year we host a celebration to honor their dedication to open space. This year, we gathered at Rancho de Guadalupe, an area of Sierra Azul not yet open for public access.
Thanks to these local business who contributed to the event: Bay Nature, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Birder’s Garden in San Carlos, Breathe Together Yoga, California Academy of Sciences, Cartoon Art Museum, Committee for Green Foothills, Danville Bike, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Harley Farms, Keen Garage Palo Alto, Loma Brewing Co., Nick’s Next Door Restaurant, REI Mountain View, RoadRunner Sports, San Francisco Playhouse, San Francisco Symphony, Sports Basement, Tea on the Avenue, Testarossa Winery, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Walt Disney Family Museum.
Numerous studies have found that spending time in nature is good for your health. Join us at one or more of our FREE docent-led activities to experience the benefits of open space. We have over 20 activities in October to choose from – practice mindfulness on a Health and Wellness Hike, learn about local flora and fauna during an Autumn Exploration or find out Who Named the Trees?
Join Midpen at Ridge Trail Day
This summer, Midpen partnered with Latino Outdoors to introduce participants in the Girls to Women program to the joys of being outside. Girls from 7 to 14 years old, enjoyed three trips to our preserves — visiting the Deer Hollow Farm animals at Rancho San Antonio, sharing On Saturday, November 2, hundreds of volunteers will join the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, REI Co-op and other partners for the 12th annual Ridge Trail Day to celebrate and give back to the biggest and best of regional trails! Sign-up to help Midpen and The Trail Center prepare the Ridge Trail in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve for winter rain. Tasks will include clearing out water bars, widening sections of the trail, and more. Advance registration is required.