View of rolling golden field and oak trees

Hawthorns Area Plan

Hawthorns Property at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. By Midpen staff.

Public Meeting Timeline

(Please be sure to check back regularly as the schedule is subject to change, pending confirmation of future meeting dates.)

September 17, 2024Forward the Public Access Working Group’s recommendations to Midpen’s Planning and Natural Resources Committee for their consideration. 
June 2023 – July 2024 7 Hawthorns Area Plan Public Access Working Group (PAWG) meetings. View the Hawthorns PAWG page for detailed information. 
April 26, 2023Midpen board of directors approved deliverables for Existing Conditions phase and Public Access Working Group composition and formation process. (Staff report, presentation
March 21, 2023Deliverables from Existing Conditions phase and proposed Public Access Working Group composition and formation process presented to Planning & Natural Resources Committee. (Staff report, meeting minutes)  
March 23, 2022Midpen board of directors reviewed and approved the vision and goals. (Staff report, meeting minutes) 
PAWG Workflow and Public Engagement Opportunities

The 79-acre Hawthorns area of Windy Hill Open Space Preserve was protected from development when it was gifted to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in 2011. Since then, staff have been working to restore native grasslands, improve community wildland fire safety and protect historic features on the property. A multiyear public process began in 2021 to explore the feasibility of introducing ecologically sensitive public access to the undeveloped portion of the property.

Hawthorns Area Map Updated 5252022

Project Vision and Goals

The Hawthorns Area offers picturesque views of rolling oak grasslands and the Santa Cruz Mountains, provides important wildlife refuge, and reflects the region’s natural, agricultural, and social history. The District will protect and manage natural, scenic, cultural, and open space resources at the Hawthorns Area and provide ecologically sensitive public access consistent with the District’s mission and the allowable uses outlined in the property’s conservation easement.

Natural ResourcesProtect and restore native habitat and manage for ecological resiliency of aquatic and terrestrial habitat, wildlife connectivity, and other natural resources.
Public AccessOpen the Hawthorns Area to low-intensity public access, provide an internal trail system, and provide multi-modal access to the property.
Local and Regional ConnectivityConnect to adjacent public trails and explore opportunities for trail connections to regional open space lands. 
Natural and Cultural HistoryInterpret the rich natural, cultural, and historic features and pursue partnerships to manage the property’s natural and cultural history.
AestheticsHighlight scenic viewpoints and design recreational amenities while protecting scenic viewsheds.
Operations and MaintenanceManage the property for safe public access in a fiscally sustainable manner that promotes ongoing public support and appreciation with ongoing public engagement and consistent with the District’s Good Neighbor Policy.

On June 28th 2023, the Hawthorns Area Public Access Working Group was officially formed by the Midpen Board of Directors to evaluate public access components.

There will be multiple opportunities throughout development of the Hawthorns Area Plan for public input. To stay informed, please sign up using the comment card below to receive updates. Additional information will be provided on this webpage as the project proceeds.

Icon of shaking hands with a mountain in the background.
Land Preservation
Natural Resources Protection and Restoration
Natural Resources
Public Access, Education, and Outreach
Public Access
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Measure AA

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Hawthorns Area Virtual Site Tour

Join Midpen staff for a virtual tour of the Hawthorns Area of Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, a 79-acre property located in the Town of Portola Valley. Although the Hawthorns Area is currently closed to the public, Midpen has initiated a planning process to open this to the public. Learn more about this beautiful landscape!


The Hawthorns Area includes rolling grassland, oak woodland and year-round flows in Los Trancos Creek that support a diverse community of native plants and wildlife. To protect the natural environment, Midpen removed debris and old vehicles from the property. Midpen staff also partnered with Grassroots Ecology to restore the property's native grasslands, including carefully timed mowing to reduce the spread of non-native yellow star thistle and removal of non-native, highly flammable French broom. 

Working closely with the Woodside Fire Protection District fire marshal, Midpen also completed significant vegetation management on the property to improve community wildland fire safety, including creating a new shaded fuel break, emergency vehicle staging area and disked fire lines. 

Hawthorns Historic Complex

The property was originally developed in the late 1880s as a summer estate. For more information, please visit the Hawthorns Historic Complex page

Hawthorns House 1893
Hawthorns House - 1893, front (north) elevation

Here is the tentative schedule for developing the Hawthorns Area Plan: 

2021-2022Develop vision and goals for the Hawthorns Area 
2022-2024 Prepare Hawthorns Area Plan 
 2024-2025Conduct environmental review per CEQA
2025Hawthorns Area Plan approval and permitting



Funded by Measure AA 2014 Open Space Bond

Funded by Measure AA

This project is supported by Measure AA, a 30-year, $300 million bond passed by local voters in 2014 to support Midpen’s community-created Vision Plan top 25 priority projects.