Nature Review: Great Bay Area hiking


Emma Cahill

Photo by Emma Cahill

Rancho San Antonio

Located in Los Altos, Rancho San Antonio Preserve is a popular spot to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. The preserve, with 3,988 acres and an adjoining 165 acre Country Park offers a wide variety of hiking trails, ranging from more relaxed hiking to steeper hills and feature certain trails designated as dog-friendly or equestrian-friendly. Rancho additionally has Deer Hollow Farm, in which hikers can walk through and view goats, cows, chickens, geese and sheep. I went to Rancho last Friday in the evening time, finding that it was not very crowded. I walked on the main path to the farm, then took the Wildcat Loop Trail, a sort of steep detour path that leads to the farm. The trees surrounding the path were turning yellow and orange, a very peaceful sight to see while hiking. After passing the farm, I then hiked up Mora Trail, a steeper and more rocky path that then leads to a water tower. Following the sharp trek up to the water tower, I experienced an amazing view of the Santa Clara Valley. In addition to the Santa Clara Valley, I had a very scenic view of the sun setting over the green hills.  Overall, I would recommend Rancho to anyone looking to get outdoors, whether it be a short walk to see animals at Deer Hollow Farm or a hike leading to a view of the Santa Clara Valley.

Parking Lot Address:

22500 Cristo Rey Dr, Cupertino, CA 95014

Photo by Emma Cahill

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve 

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, located in Portola Valley, offers 1,355 acres of forest and open grassland ridges to hike through. Windy Hill provides trails such as Hamms Gulch, Eagle, and Razorback Ridge that take you on an eight mile loop through forested ridges and back down to the valley floor. However, when I went last Sunday, I opted for The Anniversary trail, a shorter hike leading you up to the top of Windy Hill, offering amazing views of the surrounding valley and the Bay Area. The hike was the perfect amount of time, lasting around 45 minutes. While hiking, I couldn’t help but notice how I was surrounded by a beautiful forest as well as moss-covered trees. I found that as I went in the mid afternoon it was more crowded, making it more difficult to find parking, however, the view from Windy Hill was worth it. Most of the trails are dog-friendly, and there are additional trails for open for bikes and equestrians. I recommend hiking here at an earlier point in the day to avoid the crowd and to witness the beauty from the top of Windy Hill. 

Parking Space Address:

555 Portola Rd, Portola Valley, CA 94028  

Photo by Emma Cahill

Hidden Villa Farm

Hidden Villa Farm offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, ranging from hiking to farming and gardening courses. Visitors of Hidden Villa are able to take a walk through the farm and interact with the animals, sign up to volunteer in the garden or farm, or have a picnic at one of the many designated picnic bench areas. Located in Los Altos Hills, Hidden Villa’s trails span from more difficult, steep trails such as the five mile-long Windmill Pasture Loop trail to shorter and easier trails such as the flat, one mile-long Creek Trail. However, Hidden Villa’s hiking trails and wilderness areas are closed off to dogs. When I went to Hidden Villa last Saturday, I went closer to when it opened in the morning at around 10 a.m., finding it was less crowded. I opted for a short walk through the farm, saw the chickens and a few cows, then hiked on the Toyon Hill Loop Trail, a one and a half mile-long trail that goes up to a ridge with a view overlooking the farm. I found the hike very worthwhile as though the path was a bit narrow, the surrounding scenery of trees with leaves turning autumn colors was beautiful. The hike was a good amount of time, lasting about an hour. I recommend checking out Hidden Villa as it offers a wide variety of activities and hikes with great views. 

Parking Lot Address: 

26870 Moody Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022