Skyline Ridge Preserve offers 2,143-acres of remarkably varied landscape that includes ridge vistas, expansive meadows, a pond for nature study, and a quiet lake frequented by migrating birds.
Funding from the California Park and Recreation Facilities Act of 1984 and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund assisted development of this Preserve.
Fun for visitors of all ages and abilities. This short loop circles Alpine Pond and gives visitors a chance to to peer into the shallow water in search of pond creatures. Accommodates visitors with wheelchairs or strollers.
This easy enjoyable loop trail features quarter-mile trails (Ridge, Horseshoe Lake, and Horseshoe Loop Trails), which encircle Horseshoe Lake. Given its gentle grade, this trail is suitable for users of all skill levels. Its features include paved sections, benches, intermittent shade, and beautiful views.
This section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail offers views of the Lambert Creek watershed, Butano Ridge, and Portola State Park that will impress the hiker who makes a trek up this trail.
Preserve Highlights & Features
David C. Daniels Nature Center
Overlooking Alpine Pond at Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, the David C. Daniels Nature Center features imaginative displays that both children and adults can enjoy.
Currently CLOSED due to COVID-19 public health guidelines.
Alpine Pond and Horseshoe Lake
Suitable for families, leisurely- to moderate-level trails designed for wheelchair and stroller access can be found at both Alpine Pond and Horseshoe Lake.
Horseshoe Lake overlook has two oak-shaded picnic tables and Alpine Pond has two sunny tables adjacent to the pond.
Self-guided multimedia nature tours are available for Alpine Pond and along nearby trails.
Stories from the Preserves
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.
- No reported trail closures.
Main parking lot (100 spaces): The preserve's entrance is located about one mile south of the Page Mill Road / Alpine Road and Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) intersection. Ample equestrian trailer parking is available at this location.
Access to the Daniels Nature Center (37 spaces): Park in the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot, located on the northwest corner of the Page Mill / Alpine Road and Skyline Boulevard intersection (across Skyline Blvd. on the right). Walk through the tunnel under Alpine Road and follow the path to reach the nature center.
- Bicyclists: Bicycles are allowed on designated trails only (marked on map). Helmets are required. Observe the 15 mph trail speed limit (5 mph when passing). Avoid startling hikers and equestrians by announcing your presence when approaching from behind.For more information visit the Bicycle Access page.
- Equestrians: Horses are allowed on designated trails (marked on map). Helmets are recommended for all equestrians. For more information visit the Equestrian Access page.
- Dogs: Dogs are not allowed in this Preserve. For information on dog-friendly preserves visit the Dog Access page. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Midpen accommodates service dogs in preserves wherever we allow public access.
- Fires are prohibited in preserves.
- Plants & Wildlife: Please leave undisturbed. If you encounter wildlife during a visit, do not approach, startle or feed it. Although wild animals are generally fearful of humans and will run away, some wildlife can be dangerous.
- Smoking is prohibited in preserves.
- Water Areas: Swimming, wading or engaging in any water-contact activity is prohibited.
- Weapons are prohibited in preserves.
A general access permit is required for any activity or event that:
- may be attended by twenty (20) or more people; OR
- would restrict the use of any part of Midpen lands by members of the public; OR
- requests or requires a fee be paid or a donation made for participation. This includes events where the fee is in the form of a mandatory purchase, such as a t-shirt.
Midpen trails and facilities are generally very safe. However, you are entering an environment where there are some naturally occurring hazards. Reasonable caution and common sense should be utilized when venturing into any outdoor environment.
- Do not leave valuables in your vehicle! Lock your vehicle and store valuables out of sight or take them with you on the trail.
- Travel in groups of two or more. Two of more people can assist each other in the event of an accident or emergency.
- Dress for the environment. Temperature changes can be occur and you should dress in layers appropriate for the location, time of year and planned activities.
- Carry water with you. Drinking water is not available at most Midpen preserves so you should bring your own. Two quarts per person per two hour hike is recommended.
- Apply sunscreen and drink plenty of water prior to and during your outdoor activities.
- Be aware that cell service is very sporadic on the preserves.
Be Prepared and Aware
Plan ahead before you leave. Check regulations and weather, download a map, pack water and first aid.
Know your limits and take safety precautions.
Rattlesnakes are native to this area and are especially active in warm weather.
Poison oak grows on most preserves: Learn to identify and avoid it in all seasons.
Ticks are present in this area and may carry diseases.
Mountain lions are a natural part of this region’s environment and are occasionally seen.
In Case of Emergency
If you experience an emergency (fire, accident or other immediate threat to life or property), call 911. For nonemergencies, call 650-691-1200.
Much of the land that became Skyline Ridge Preserve (and also Russian Ridge Preserve) was at one time owned by James Rolph, Jr. or "Sunny Jim," as he was known to his constituents. Rolph was one of California's most colorful politicians, serving as mayor of San Francisco from 1912 until January 1931, when he resigned to become the state's newly elected governor, a post he held until his death in 1934. After Rolph, the northern part of what became Skyline Ridge Preserve was owned by Mr. John Rickey of Rickey's Hyatt House in Palo Alto, who used it for a thousand-head hog ranch. Alpine Pond and Horseshoe Lake were constructed in the 1950s to provide water for the ranching and agriculture operations. Later the property was passed on to the Wasserman family, who used it to raise cattle and graze horses. It was the Wassermans who established the Christmas Tree farm that still exists on the Preserve today.
The District purchased the land that became Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve in 1982.