The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Great Hiking Places in the Bay Area

The Los Altos hiker is a lucky variety of the species. With hundreds of trails criss-crossing the Coastal Range and dozens of open space preserves within an hour’s drive, hiking opportunities around Los Altos are plentiful.

Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

Only a ten-minute drive from the high school, Rancho San Antonio is one of the more well known preserves in the Los Altos community. A 3,988-acre park, the Rancho offers diverse environments ranging from rolling grassy hills to oak woods. As the go-to hiking destination for a lot of the south bay, the trails are often heavily trafficked, especially the main trail leading to Deer Hollow Farm, a small farm and petting zoo that brings in a lot of families with small children. That being said, one shouldn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife following behind a screaming five-year old. The Wildcat Canyon Trail offers an enjoyable loop that will take the in-the-know hiker away from the crowds and into a densely forested area that affords some great views of the valley below. The entire hike to and from the trailhead is around 5 miles.

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

Story continues below advertisement

Monte Bello, “beautiful mountain” in Italian, definitely lives up to its name. The preserve is very close, located high up in the Los Altos Hills and is only a short, if windy, drive up Moody Road. Offering a range of difficult hiking trails that snake through the soft peaks of the coastal range, Monte Bello is a great hiking area for any level hiker. The preserve also maintains a campground only a short 10 minute trek from the Skyline parking lot, which affords great stargazing on clear nights. However, for the hiking enthusiast, Monte Bello offers one of the best long hikes in the Los Altos area: the Black Mountain Trail. The trail starts in Rancho San Antonio and takes you through bay and oak woods before spitting hikers out into the rolling hills and vistas of Monte Bello. If you decide to make the 16-mile hike, call ahead to arrange a pick-up at the parking lot at the top or bring camping gear to spend a night under the stars.

Big Basin State Park

The definitive redwood preserve, Big Basin State Park is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. About a forty minute drive away from the high school, Big Basin offers the best redwood forest hikes in the Bay Area. Despite being only a short drive from civilization, the area feels wholly natural, on parallel with some of the best hiking in the sierras. The isolation of the Santa Cruz mountains gives the area a very isolated vibe, and even on weekends the park never feels overly crowded. The Sunset trail offers an enjoyable 10-mile loop, complete with waterfalls and trees older than Jesus. Standing beneath the bows of a 5,000-year-old redwood can be a perspective-altering experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Piccheti Ranch Open Space Preserve

For the casual hiker, Piccheti Ranch can be the ultimate retreat. The featured three-mile hike starts off in an old orchard, then continues through an oak wood, and follows the grassy foothills back to the start. The path passes by a small pond, which is home to a host of aquatic and amphibious life during the winter and also offers a great lunching spot. The short hike and easy access by Steven’s Canyon Road (about a 15 minute drive) make this an optimal hike for beginners, but Piccheti Ranch lacks some of the natural isolation that some other hikes can offer. A shooting range across the valley can disturb the natural vibe of the hike, and the bustle of the city never really feels too far away.

Año Nuevo State Reserve

Mountain hiking is easily accessible from Los Altos, but for a change of pace check out Año Nuevo State Reserve, an hours drive from the high school. The four miles of San Mateo coastline offer beautiful beach hiking and a great chance to see Californian marine wildlife. Año Nuevo is famous for the elephant seals that beach there during the mating and birthing seasons, specifically between December and March. Hundreds of them teem the shores year after year. However, in order to protect the seals (and the hikers), visitors are required to get a permit from the ranger station before exploring the beaches where the seals beach. The Año Nuevo trails are a great place for hikers to get their feet in the sand and are great for bird watching as well. The main trail, the Año Nuevo Point Trail, is a 4-mile loop shows off the best of the reserve, from coastal forests to white sand beaches.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Talon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *