Best Rancho Runs For Every Skill Level

Photo taken by India Flinchum.

Photo taken by India Flinchum.

India Flinchum

Running seems to be an activity people generally love or hate, but nonetheless, it is the most universal sport in the world.  No matter your age, gender, or skill level, almost any run can be modified to fit your personal needs.  A runner has the freedom and flexibility to adapt a workout to fit his or her individual standards or qualifications. Whether you are the short-jog-around-the-block type of person, or the high-school cross-country star, we are blessed to live in a community built for runners with safe and smoothly paved streets near by, and world-class trails in our backyards.

I am an avid runner, and Rancho San Antonio is by far my favorite place to train.  The area has 24 miles of gorgeous trails and a fusion of diverse terrain ranging from subtle, rolling hills to dense forest.  I have only been running competitively for about a year, but in that time span I have explored a majority of the trails at Rancho.  I absolutely love the natural beauty and variation the trails here have to offer, and guarantee that almost anyone can run happily and successfully there. Another great place to run is the Stevens Creek Trail, which spans five miles of terrain, weaving from local streets and neighborhood parks, to marshes and creeksides. Below, I listed three my favorite Rancho runs, each pertinent to different skill levels.

Photo taken by India Flinchum.
Photo taken by India Flinchum.

For the  Beginner:

Trail Name: Farm Bypass Trail

Start:  Front Parking Lot

End:  Deer Hollow Farm

Distance: Approximately 3 miles

Difficulty: Basic

Description/Scenery:  This light run follows the Farm Bypass trail through mostly flat terrain with the occasional mild hill.   This trail allows you to choose whether you want to continue running on dirt (through slightly hillier terrain), or run on pavement (the flattest option,) toward the middle of the run.  You’ll hit the one-mile mark at Deer Hollow Farm, where a water fountain is stationed conveniently.  If you are still feeling up to it, you can feel free to continue farther, possibly on the Rouge Valley trail, which dead ends at a bare salt pond. Deer and quail are commonly spotted along this trail.  Turning around after the Bypass trail and heading back to the parking lot will make this out-and-back run about three miles.


For the Intermediate:

           Trail Name: Wildcat Loop Trail

Distance: Approximately 7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Description/Scenery: This trail is built for the consistent runner, but pleases both cyclists and afternoon hikers year around.  The trail winds its way gently along the eastern Santa Cruz mountains and allows the runner to experience a variety of terrain with breathtaking views from the Upper Wildcat Canyon and Rouge Valley paths.


          For the Advanced:

          Trail Name: PG&E Trail

          Distance: Approximately 11 miles total (significantly hilly throughout)

          Difficulty: Advanced

          Description/Scenery:  The PG&E trail offers a brutal workout fit for the experienced runner. Beginning at the bottom of a major hill, the start of the run requires a short but intense elevation climb.  Throughout the trail, the runner is confronted with steep hills and occasional flat periods where the views of the San Francisco Bay are astounding.  If you’re not feeling up to the whole run, there are many trails that cut down back into the valley.