a couple hiking in the woods

Walking and Hiking

Midpen's open space preserves are ideal for walking and hiking. Whether you are looking for a quick stroll to enjoy nature, an opportunity to learn more about earthquakes, or an educational hike led by one of our docents, hiking allows you to enjoy your open space and marvel at the natural beauty of this area.

Self-guided Walks

We've compiled a variety of self-guided walks across the Midpen preserves. Learn the stories of Mount Umunhum in Sierra Azul Preserve, learn about the varied habitats around Alpine Pond in Skyline Ridge Preserve, see where the San Andreas Fault splits Los Trancos Preserve and more! Many tours can be downloaded to free smartphone apps.

Image
Hikers enjoying sunset sky at Monte Bello Preserve
Sunset hikers at Monte Bello Preserve (Karl Gohl)

Free guided activities lead by volunteer docent naturalists offer a great way to explore a new preserve, learn about the natural environment or join others for outdoor recreation. Whether it's a short stroll by a scenic pond or a vigorous hike to the top of a summit, there's something for everyone!

Other Suggested Outings

Below is a list of other suggested hikes. Please see the Preserves page to find directions and review Trail Conditions before heading out.

Seven Breathtaking Views
Whether you're a first-time hiker or an experienced outdoor enthusiast, here are magical vistas to enjoy.

Waterfalls and Water Wonders
Local hiking trails to explore in Midpen Open Space preserves that feature rushing creeks and waterfalls during the rainy season.

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve
Stevens Creek Nature Trail (3-mile loop): The Stevens Creek Nature Trail, with self-guided interpretive stations along the way, descends into the forested canyon, continues along the creek, and heads back up through grasslands. The trail takes visitors through many of the diverse ecosystems found on the Preserve. In the grassland, one is likely to see red-tailed hawks or turkey vultures soaring overhead, or a coyote or bobcat hunting for rodents in the fields. Herds of black-tailed deer are often seen in the grassland in the fall during the mating season. Mountain lions have been spotted occasionally on this Preserve. As the trail descends into the forest, the temperature drops, the air becomes moist, and the scent of bay trees pervades the air. The forest and riparian corridor running along Stevens Creek provide a lush environment for many species, including many ferns, Douglas firs, and herbs.

Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve
Wildcat Loop Trail (3 miles): A popular route for hikers and joggers, the trail follows a creek into a cool, fern-walled narrow canyon, ascends through chaparral to open meadows on the middle ridge, and loops back to Deer Hollow Farm. Lupine, poppies, and patches of blue-eyed grass bloom in the meadows in spring. Visitors can pause or picnic here and, on a clear day, enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Tamalpais to the north and Mt. Hamilton to the east.

Black Mountain Trail (4 miles): The trail climbs through chaparral, grassland, and oak woodland to the top of Black Mountain. At the top of 2,800-foot Black Mountain, there are other views west into Stevens Creek Canyon and open space lands along the Skyline ridge, as well as views of Santa Clara Valley.

Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve
Saratoga Gap Trail (2 miles): Dedicated as part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the nearly two-mile multi-use trail parallels Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35), and connects with trails leading to Sanborn-Skyline County Park, Castle Rock and Big Basin State Parks, Upper Stevens Creek County Park, and Long Ridge, Skyline Ridge, and Monte Bello Open Space Preserves, and beyond. All visitors will enjoy the wooded forest scattered with Douglas fir, redwood, and California nutmeg, and the more predominant species of oak, madrone, and bay. Visitors with a careful eye may also spot late blooming wildflowers lining this beautiful trail. Attractive lichen-covered boulders and sandstone rock outcroppings can also be seen from the trail.

Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve
Woods Trail (6.2 miles):  Beginning at the Jacques Ridge parking area, the trail takes visitors over the top of 3,000-foot Mt. El Sombroso, through deep ravines with shady, cool groves of madrone, and into the Kennedy-Limekiln Area trail network. The Woods Trail also provides a less strenuous out-and-back experience since it is fairly level over the first three miles.

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve
Hamms Gulch, Eagle, Razorback Ridge, and Lost trails (8-mile loop): Travel through grassland ridges and forests of redwood, fir, and oak to the valley floor and back again.

Sign up for our newsletter to find out what’s happening in your open space!