View from Russian Ridge Preserve to Mindego Hill by Karl Gohl

Russian Ridge Preserve

Overview

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Hours
Open a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset. The Mindego Hill area will be closed when the National Weather Service declares Red Flag Warning weather.

This 3,137-acre preserve known for its showy display of wildflowers in spring. In summer, the hills turn to gold with the late evening sunlight. Autumn, when the fog recedes, is the ideal time to enjoy the ridge views of San Francisco Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains through the crisp, clean air. Winter storms occasionally dust the top of the hills with snow.

Diverse plant communities, miles of forest edge, and abundant springs make Russian Ridge an outstanding habitat for wildlife. Large numbers of raptors soar over the lush grasslands, and coyotes patrol the ridges. The steep forested canyons create a secure refuge for a tremendous variety of animals.

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

Preserve Highlights & Features

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Wildflowers at Russian Ridge

Wildflowers

In the spring this preserve explodes with color as the native wildflowers – primarily poppies and lupine – put on a showy display. By May and June, gumweed, mules ears, farewell-to-spring, and brodiaea bloom.

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 

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YIELD. Bicycles yield to hikers and equestrians. HIkers yield to equestrians.
  • 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

There are currently no events scheduled.

History

Russian Ridge was named for Mr. Paskey, a Russian immigrant who grazed cattle and ran a dairy farm here from about 1920 to 1950. Paskey originally leased his land from James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, Jr., then mayor of San Francisco, and later California's governor.

Native Americans are thought to have used the area for gathering seeds, and may have burned some of the grasslands to encourage a bountiful crop the following years.

Borel Hill, is named for Antonio Borel, a Swiss banker who lived here from 1885 to 1910. Borel was involved with the Spring Valley Water Company, which later created Crystal Springs Reservoir. 

The district began acquiring the preserve in 1978, through a series of complex transactions, from its owners, who were planning to subdivide and build houses.