Los Trancos at sunset.

Los Trancos Preserve

Los Trancos at sunset.

Overview

Los Trancos Open Space Preserve is a 274-acre area located in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Palo Alto. This is an ideal spot to learn about earthquake geology. The San Andreas Fault, one of the world's longest and most active faults, splits the preserve. 

The Preserve is situated at about 2,000 feet and always has fresh air scented with pungent bay leaves, sweet grass and damp woods. Here, visitors will find a pleasant environment of rolling grassland knolls alternating with oak woodland and cool shaded forest. On a clear day, one can spot the gleaming skyscrapers of San Francisco and pick out Mt. Diablo across the bay. 

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Hiking: All Trails
Hiking: All Trails
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Bicycling: Not Permitted
Bicycling: Not Permitted
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Equestrian: Designated Trails
Equestrian: Designated Trails
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Dogs on Leash: Not Permitted
Dogs on Leash: Not Permitted
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No Easy Access
No Easy Access
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Camping: No Camping
Camping: No Camping
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Restrooms: Not Available
Restrooms: Not Available

Preserve Highlights & Features

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San Andreas Fault Earthquake Trail
San Andreas Fault Earthquake Trail

San Andreas Fault Earthquake Trail

The San Andreas Fault Earthquake Trail is an ideal spot to learn about earthquake geology. Visitors can hike the easy 1.5-mile self-guided interpretive trail which gives visitors a chance to learn more about the lead player on California's geology.

Stories from the Preserves

Nature

Here are some of the plants and animals that other visitors have observed at this preserve and recorded in iNaturalist. Protected species may be excluded and some species may not yet have been observed. Help improve iNaturalist by adding your observations to the Midpen Biodiversity Index project

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Know Before You Go

Preserve regulations help provide a safe, enjoyable visit while protecting sensitive areas and wildlife. 

Share the Trail 

  • Use designated trails to avoid damage to natural resources and prevent injury. 

  • Avoid blocking the trail. Step aside to allow others to pass .  

  • Whether you’re walking or biking, always yield to equestrians. 

  • Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in. Most preserves do not have trash cans. Littering is prohibited. 

  • Abuses of trail etiquette should be brought to the attention of a ranger or call the Midpen main office at 650-691-1200. 

Activities & Events

History

Once part of a 13,300-acre ranch in the nineteenth century, the land that was to become Los Trancos Preserve was purchased in the early 1900s by Louis Oneal, a San Jose attorney and state senator who raised horses and owned the nearby O&O Breeding Stables. The property changed hands in the 1950s, and in the 1960s Palo Alto ran water and power lines to it, in anticipation of residential development. The Livingston-Blarney report detailing the high cost of providing city services to the foothills stopped a proposed subdivision. The District acquired most of the property in 1976. 

The 1.5-mile San Andreas Fault Trail was established in 1977 with volunteer assistance from former Foothill College geology professor Tim Hall and his students.