addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwchatcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgoogleimageimagesinstagramlinklocation-pinmagnifying-glassmailminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1outlookpersonplusprice-ribbonImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruseryahoo

Scouting: Wildflowers! Arastradero Preserve, 3.7-Mile Easy Dog Friendly Hike

This is  a scouting hike meant to explore and learn the route for the first time.  Therefore, it may take longer than expected.

This easy 3.7 mile loop, with 400 feet elevation gain, goes through a grassland and oak preserve. Most trails climb on a gradual grade. 

Getting there:

From Interstate 280 in Santa Clara County, exit Page Mill Road and drive west about 0.3 mile. Turn right onto Arastradero Road, continue about 0.5 mile, and turn right into the parking lot.

Meeting place: At the Park & Ride on the corner of Page Mill Road and Arastradero Road.

Trailhead details:

Dirt parking which fills quickly on weekends. No entrance or parking fees. Toilets, pay phone, and drinking water near the trail entrance. Maps available at the information signboard. There is a portable toilet. There is no direct public transportation to the preserve, but you can walk into the preserve from the Sam Trans stop: visit 511.org for details.

Rules:

The preserve is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Dogs are permitted, but must be leashed. Most trails are open to cyclists, equestrians, and hikers. A few trails are open to hikers and equestrians only.

Hiking time1 1/2 hours.

Exposure:
A few pockets of shade, otherwise completely exposed.

Trail traffic:
Moderate. 

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails and fire roads.

Season:
Nice any time; lovely in spring.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/350

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 37°23'13.74"N
Longitude 122°10'28.19"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, restaurants, and stores a few miles northwest on Alpine Road. No camping.

The Official Story:
City of Palo Alto's Arastradero page 

Map Choices: 
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get to the preserve.
• Map from City of Palo Alto (download the pdf)
• Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of an Arastradero hike. 
• The Trail Center's Trail Map of the Southern Peninsula (order this map from Amazon.com) is a good guide. 
• The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book, by Tom Taber, has a simple map and preserve description (order this book from Amazon.com).
• Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, has a decent map and preserve descriptions (order this book from Amazon.com).

 Arastradero in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

Photos
 From an August 2002 hike
• View 27 photos from the featured hike (old routing of Woodrat Trail shown).
• View 46 photos from the featured hike (Acorn shortcut version).
• View a few photos of spring at Arastradero.


(Text above and below quoted from Jane Huber's Bay Area Hiker Web site.)

"Arastradero Preserve lacks the wild drama of open space preserves that hang off the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains a few miles west, but it's pleasant and easy to get to, ranking with Edgewood, Pulgas, Windy Hill, and Wunderlichas the most convenient parks along the 280 corridor. Although most of the trails at Arastradero are multi-use, the small size and location of the preserve make it relatively underused by bikers, but you will probably encounter plenty of joggers, equestrians, and dog walkers. 
        Several loop hikes are possible through grassland, oak savannah, and a riparian corridor. Trails can be dishearteningly muddy during the wettest time of year, and some trails are closed seasonally.


R O U T E :

        Start at the trailhead and follow the signed Gateway Trail from the parking lot.At 0.14 mile, you'll cross Arastradero Road and enter the preserve on Juan Bautista de Anza Trail (formerly Corte Madera Trail). This broad, multi-use trail runs along Arastradero Creek all the way to the preserve's boundary. In spring, yellow fiddlenecks carpet the meadow near the wooden preserve sign. At 0.25 mile, at a signed junction, Juan Bautista de Anza Trail curves right, while Wild Rye Trail heads to the left and uphill. Stay to the right on Juan Bautista de Anza Trail.
     You may hear (and see) quail, redwing blackbirds, and cottontail rabbits along this level stretch. Besides the ubiquitous poison oak shrubbery, look for profligate bushes of wild roses (the red hips are dramatic in the fall), tangled blackberry brambles, white common snowberries, monkeyflower, elderberry, willow, coast live oak, coyote brush, and poison hemlock. Deciduous oak trees keep their distance from the trail. Juan Bautista de Anza Trail crosses the creek at a bridge, then meets up with Meadowlark Trail at a signed junction at 0.38 mile. Stay to the left on Juan Bautista de Anza Trail.
     
The trail climbs just a bit, then dips down toward Arastradero Lake. In spring, you might see blue-eyed grass, tomcat clover, bluedicks, lupines, California poppy, and California buttercup on the sides of the trail. At 0.57 mile, at a signed junction, a bridge veers left of the trail just before the lake. Continue straight on Juan Bautista de Anza Trail.
    Arastradero Lake is partially visible on the left. At 0.61 mile,bear left where the trail splits at a junction near a pump house, now on Arastradero Creek Trail. 
     Much of this small pond is kept at arm's length by thick, healthy stands of cattails and is closed to swimmers, but is open all year for fishing. In the fall, bird sounds drift away from the lake -- they seem to be sitting in some invisible patch of vegetation, as I can rarely see them. Willows flourish in this damp environment, along with monkeyflower, blackberry, snowberry, and gooseberry. 
     Although Arastradero Creek Trail runs along the creek, the water is scarcely visible, blocked by thick vegetation, including coast live oak, willow, toyon, and buckeye.The trail climbs a little, but is mostly level. At 1.16 miles, you'll reach a signed junction with the Acorn Trail, which was built in June 2000. (If you'd like to shorten your hike, turn right here, and at the junction with Meadowlark, turn right and follow the remaining directions) Continue on Arastradero Creek Trail.
     At 1.33 miles, Arastradero Creek Trail reaches a signed junction with Woodrat Trail. Turn right. (Woodrat may be closed in wet conditions; if so, retrace your steps back to Acorn Trail.)
     The former route climbed sharply through grassland, but the new trail zigzags easily uphill through poison oak, coyote brush, coast live oak, monkeyflower, snowberry, buckeye, and California bay. Along the shaded stretches you might notice tiny-leaved yerba buena plants. Narrow Woodrat Trail steps out into grassland, and joins the former trail heading uphill to the right. At 1.69 miles you'll reach a T junction (unsigned on my last visit). Turn left.
     The slight path (not shown on the map) winds through grassland, overlooking Bowl Loop Trail at the southwest edge of the preserve. You may be able to make out trails at Windy Hill in the distance. At 1.84 miles you'll reach an unsigned T junction near a massive valley oak. Turn right. (You could extend the hike at this point, turning left onto Meadowlark, descending to Woodland Star Trail, then returning to Meadowlark via Bay Laurel Trail.)
     Meadowlark, a broad dirt road open to cyclists, equestrians, and hikers, climbs slightly through grassland. At 1.96 miles, you'll reach a signed junction with Vista Point Trail. Turn left. 
     The path passes a picnic table and a string of olive trees, then ascends gently to a bench under a huge valley oak, at 2.06 miles. When ready, retrace your steps back to the previous junction, then turn left, back onto Meadowlark Trail.
      A few steps down the trail you'll reach a signed junction with Woodrat Trail. Continue straight on Meadowlark Trail.
      The trail begins a gentle descent. At 2.7 miles, there's a T junction. Continue to the right on Meadowlark Trail.
      Look for wild radish and mustard along the trail in early spring. At 2.8 miles, Acorn Trail heads downhill to the right. Continue to the left on Meadowlark Trail. 
     Wonderful views to the east, as well as of the soft rolling hills of this preserve, will unfold as you descend on the wide trail. Wildflowers are the main attraction here in spring, with mule ear sunflowers, fiddlenecks, and lupines shading the grass with subtle colors, while fresh, tender oak leaves emerge on the venerable old oaks which dot the grassland. By June the grass is usually dried out, and a few clarkia, California poppies, and pearly everlasting provide a contrast to the honey-colored grass and deep green leaves of the preserve's oaks. The grass begins to green up again as early as December, and thanks to new efforts to eradicate non-native pest plants, the grassland at Arastradero should become even more verdant in coming years. At 3.10 miles, Meadowlark Trail meets Juan Bautista de Anza Trail at a signed junction. Continue straight on Meadowlark Trail.
     
The fire road shrinks to a footpath. Yellow star thistle has infested the grass and creeps in for your ankles. Look for hawks, kites, and kestrels soaring in the thermals overhead. Pretty swaths of knee-high mustard flourish in early spring. Portola Pastures Trail (formerly Perimeter Trail) meets Meadowlark Trail at 3.30 miles. Turn right, following Meadowlark as it sweeps down to the right and meets Juan Bautista de Anza Trail at a previously encountered junction at 3.39 miles. Turn left at the junction and return to the parking area."

(Text above quoted from Jane Huber's Bay Area Hiker Web site.)

Parking lotCorte Madera Trail in late springCorte Madera Trail in springArastradero Lake in late springSpring flowersWoodrat TrailA path in the southwest part of the preserveMeadowlark Trail


Join or login to comment.

  • sue

    People are friendly, the trail is ok, too hot when it is a suinny day

    April 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Kal - Please note that this hike indicates to meet at the Park and Ride at the corner of Page Mill and Arastradero and the hike starts at the trailhead off of Arastradero. They are 1/2 mile apart. The directions should state to meet-up at the trailhead. You should keep in mind that the parking lot at the trailhead is not going to accommodate a lot of cars. Maybe the original directions were suggesting to meet at the Park and Ride and carpool to the trailhead. I understand the parking lot fills up on the weekends. Hope you enjoy the hike this weekend.

    April 11, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    John, I'm sorry to hear that you, Ralph and Gigi were left behind on today's hike. There were 7 of us (Bill, Evan, Melissa, Echo, Sue, my visiting niece and myself) that left the trailhead at 1:05p. You must have just missed us. It was a hot one...4 miles. We all made it back safely. Thank you to all that braved the heat. Thank you Melissa for helping with scouting this hike.

    1 · April 10, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Were you guys at the park and ride or the start of the trail? I was at the park and ride at 1:02pm. The 3 of us had a great time and we were slower anyways so it worked out in the end. Hope to hike with you guys next time.

      April 10, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi John. Yes, we were at the start of the trail. The directions did in fact indicate to meet-up at the Park and Ride and the hike would start at the trailhead...odd due to the fact that they are 1/2 mile apart. I will make sure the event organizer that posted this hike changes that for the future. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. It sounds like you made the best of the situation. Thank you!

      April 11, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    So no leader for this one? Is that final? Maybe then I will skip it & go on Sunday.

    April 9, 2014

    • Kal A.

      So, Chris, does that mean you will sign up for Sunday?

      April 10, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      I'll need to check the weather since some comments about the heat. I don't do straight sun or steep hills. I prefer enjoyable hikes.

      April 10, 2014

  • James F

    Couldn't make it. Hope you guys had a great hike.

    April 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am here with Ralph and Gigi, anyone else?

    April 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am late, where is everyone?

    April 10, 2014

  • John L.

    Can't make it in time - look like beautiful topography - bring sunblock :)

    April 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Kal - You know that and I know that but there are other hikers out there that don't know that. I wasn't familiar with what "scouting" meant until my first hike with this meet-up group. The leader wasn't sure which direction to go and her followers were concerned with her leadership. She then informed us that the hike we were on was a "scouting" hike. I now know that I need to pay attention on "scouting" hikes and not just follow. Is there something that could be done to inform members of this meet-up group (like the gentleman below) what a "scouting" hike means?

    1 · April 9, 2014

    • Kal A.

      Yes, I will add an explanation as the first line.

      April 9, 2014

    • Kal A.

      Following a description from a book can be challenging. That is why I also use a GPS-based route plan prepared in advance using a satellite view to see the actual trails.

      April 9, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Kal. I was planning on going. I have not hiked this area before. I do have a map and have printed out the hike course that was provided above. I would prefer not to lead a group of people on a hike that I have not done before. I do plan on doing the hike even though there is not a leader. Hopefully there will be others who would like to explore this short hike with a group lead.

    April 9, 2014

    • Kal A.

      Its labeled a "Scouting" hike in the title for the purpose of exploring for the first time, just as you stated. So people should come with that expectation. You can add "Scouting" to any hike in the future to set the same expectation.

      April 9, 2014

  • Kal A.

    I am looking for someone to lead this short hike. Either use the description of the route above, or use any GPS app on any smart phone with the route I have created here: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2729655 This GPS route file is in the standard GPX file format and useable by any GPS app or GPS device. I use the free EveryTrail app on my iPhone.

    April 7, 2014

15 went

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy