Become a Mountain Man, Hike in the Bay Area

The Talon Investigates the Best Places to Take an Athletic, Wild Stroll

Many individuals, students and teachers alike seek ways to escape from their stressful lives and simply appreciate the world around them—hiking is one way to do this. Since Los Altos is not a large city, there are many different hiking locations surrounding the area that provide a plethora of terrains and scenery for both the avid and inexperienced trekkers. Here are some local hiking locations one might consider.

Stanford Dish
Located at the intersection of Foothill and Junipero Serra Blvd., the Stanford Dish provides a moderate level and well-maintained hiking spot for people who are not afraid of hills. Wither very nice views from peaks in the rolling terrain, the Dish, named after the larger satellite dish placed in the middle of the area, is a beautiful location with scattered trees and beautiful sunsets over the fields.

Although the close drive will save time, it also makes the Dish a much more popular location; it is often very crowded with others hoping to have a solitary walk, and it can also get very hot with the sun beating down and little shade. One should note that dogs are not allowed, so if one wants give their furry companion some exercise, then the Dish is not an option. In addition, a guard at the front gate to the park regulates the hours very meticulously, so one should make sure not to arrive after closing time.

Palo Alto Baylands
Extending from Embarcadero Way to San Antonio Road in Palo Alto, the Palo Alto Baylands provide a very flat location for the easygoing hike, and are the largest baylands within the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Level and well-kept terrain, views of the bay and an abundance of birds and plentiful wildlife make it a great spot for the bird-watcher or someone wishing to enjoy nature without killing their knees.

Dogs on leashes are also allowed, making this a good location for those wishing to enjoy a scenic walk with their pet. Rollerblades are another common form of transportation, and bicycles can be used as well if one is interested in a smooth ride suitable for a bike with no shifting capability.

Although temperate in cooler weather, the Baylands heat up in the summer, and without any trees to provide shade, one should make sure to wear a hat.

Rancho San Antonio
An open space preserve, Rancho San Antonio is located on Cristo Rey Drive in south Los Altos, by Foothill Expressway and 280. Possible hikes range in difficulty, from short, level strolls to long, strenuous hikes that might require hiking boots and Advil.

With many trees for shade, this is one of the better hiking spots when the weather is warm. Also, Rancho San Antonio has the feel of true wilderness, so one might quickly find themselves in the midst of a forest, with the sounds of city life long gone.

One negative is that it gets very crowded and parking is extremely difficult, especially on weekends, with local hikers wishing to walk in the woods outside Los Altos. Also, no dogs are allowed, likely due to the narrower trails and the fact that it is a wilderness preserve (and the wilderness would not be well-preserved with dog feces littering the side of the trails).

Arastradero Preserve
Located on Arastradero Road, off Page Mill Road in the Palo Alto Hills, Arastradero Preserve provides another location for a hike with a few trail options. Arastradero’s dirt trails offer moderate hiking through terrain very similar to the Stanford Dish. However, Arastradero does allow dogs on leashes, bikes and horses, so should one be seeking a hike in a wilderness setting with a canine, this would be a good option.

There is also a small lake within the preserve with fishing opportunities; however, when wandering off the beaten path, watch for poison oak and ticks, which are abundant in the hills.