Great Activities for Hikers


The District’s open space preserves are ideal for hiking. Whether you are looking for a quick stroll to enjoy nature, an opportunity to learn more about earthquakes, or an educational hike led by one of our docents, hiking allows you to enjoy your open space and marvel at the natural beauty of this area.

Specific hikes of interest:

    Nature Trail – The Stevens Creek Nature Trail passes through several plant communities as it forms a three-mile loop at Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. Interpretive signs guide the way as you descend to the headwaters of Stevens Creek and return along the San Andreas Fault. See below for more details.

    Fault Trail – Visitors can hike the easy 1.5-mile Fault Trail at Los Trancos Open Space Preserve and learn how the mighty San Andreas Fault has shaped our landscape. The brochure-guided hike is both informational and fun for all ages.

    Docent-led Hikes – District docents lead over 200 outdooor activities each year. Many of these focus on a particular theme or natural history topic. Check out the Calendar of Activities to see what docent-led activity interests you!

Below is a list of other suggested hikes. Please see the Preserves page to find directions and review Trail Conditions before heading out.

Preserve: Monte Bello
Hike: Stevens Creek Nature Trail (3-mile loop). The Stevens Creek Nature Trail, with self-guided interpretive stations along the way, descends into the forested canyon, continues along the creek, and heads back up through grasslands. The trail takes visitors through many of the diverse ecosystems found on the Preserve. In the grassland, one is likely to see red-tailed hawks or turkey vultures soaring overhead, or a coyote or bobcat hunting for rodents in the fields. Herds of black-tailed deer are often seen in the grassland in the fall during the mating season. Mountain lions have been spotted occasionally on this Preserve. As the trail descends into the forest, the temperature drops, the air becomes moist, and the scent of bay trees pervades the air. The forest and riparian corridor running along Stevens Creek provide a lush environment for many species, including many ferns, Douglas firs, and herbs.

Preserve: Rancho San Antonio
Hike: Wildcat Loop Trail (3 miles). A popular route for hikers and joggers, the trail follows a creek into a cool, fern-walled narrow canyon, ascends through chaparral to open meadows on the middle ridge, and loops back to Deer Hollow Farm. Lupine, poppies, and patches of blue-eyed grass bloom in the meadows in spring. Visitors can pause or picnic here and, on a clear day, enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Tamalpais to the north and Mt. Hamilton to the east.

Preserve: Rancho San Antonio
Hike: Black Mountain Trail (4 miles). The trail climbs through chaparral, grassland, and oak woodland to the top of Black Mountain. At the top of 2,800-foot Black Mountain, there are other views west into Stevens Creek Canyon and open space lands along the Skyline ridge, as well as views of Santa Clara Valley.

Preserve: Saratoga Gap
Hike: Saratoga Gap Trail (2 miles). Dedicated as part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail,the nearly two-mile multi-use trail parallels Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35), and connects with trails leading to Sanborn-Skyline County Park, Castle Rock and Big Basin State Parks, Upper Stevens Creek County Park, and Long Ridge, Skyline Ridge, and Monte Bello Open Space Preserves, and beyond. The primary entrance to the Preserve is the trailhead located at the corner of Highway 35 and Highway 9, a short drive from bayside or Coastside.

All visitors will enjoy the wooded forest scattered with Douglas fir, redwood, and California nutmeg, and the more predominant species of oak, madrone, and bay. Visitors with a careful eye may also spot late blooming wildflowers lining this beautiful trail. Attractive lichen-covered boulders and sandstone rock outcroppings can also be seen from the trail.

Preserve: Sierra Azul
Hike: Woods Trail (6.2 miles) Beginning at the Jacques Ridge parking area, the trail takes visitors over the top of 3,000-foot Mt. El Sombroso, through deep ravines with shady, cool groves of madrone, and into the Kennedy-Limekiln Area trail network. The Woods Trail also provides a less strenuous out-and-back experience since it is fairly level over the first three miles.

Preserve: Windy Hill
Hike: Hamms Gulch, Eagle, Razorback Ridge, and Lost trails (8-mile loop). Travel through grassland ridges and forests of redwood, fir, and oak to the valley floor and back again.

If you like to recommend a hike to feature on this page, please email us at

  Additional Information

San Andreas Fault Trail

Calendar of Activities

Trail Conditions