The latest news and information about the District and Preserves.


I share, along with all of us at the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the heartbreaking pain, outrage and exasperation at witnessing, yet again, the impacts of injustice, racism, discrimination and subconscious biases in our society. We stand in unity with our Black and Indigenous communities, and all people of color. We condemn racist behaviors and the systems that create, condone or remain indifferent to those behaviors.

As general manager of a public agency that plays a leading role in regional conservation, I take seriously our responsibility to provide inclusion and equity in open space access. In our nation’s quest to build a more perfect union, change must occur at all levels in our society — not just for the sake of our democracy, but for the sake of our humanity.

The work we do — protecting open space, caring for the land, plants and wildlife, preserving rural character, encouraging viable agricultural land use and connecting people to nature — gives people a place for introspection and an opportunity to renew hope. We invite you to visit an open space preserve to take time amidst the tranquility of nature to reflect on the changes that we, as individuals, can spark within ourselves, our families and among our friends, as well as within our communities, to bring much needed positive change and healing.

I am grateful for the opportunity that Midpen provides everyone in our region, regardless of race, background, income, gender, sexual orientation, age or physical ability, to connect with nature — and with each other as humans on this shared planet. Nature welcomes everyone with open arms to witness and experience its infinite beauty, peaceful serenity and magical wonder. Nature can teach, through shared experiences and common values, the importance of caring for our natural environment.

As you head out to the preserves, consider how these special places allow us to build community and strengthen the inherent bonds we hold with each other as human beings and as stewards of our planet. Be inspired by the awe of nature — how every living creature coexists in collective harmony, depending on each other to keep fragile natural systems thriving. We can all apply the lessons of nature to our own lives: reminding ourselves of our kinship with each other, and taking actions to change the inequities and injustices that persist, so that we humans, too, can ensure that our entire society thrives.

Ana MarĂ­a Ruiz
General Manager

Midpen Visitor Survey

We've seen a lot more people enjoying nature out in the preserves in the past few months. We'd like to hear about your experience and find out a little bit about you! Take our short online survey and you can be entered into a drawing to win some cool Midpen gear!

COVID-19 Updates

Updated June 19, 2020

We are happy to announce that the Black Mountain Campground at Monte Bello, off-leash dog area at Pulgas Ridge and the permit-only parking lots at El Sereno, Monte Bello and La Honda Creek have re-opened. Please visit our permit page for more information.

Safe social distancing is still required, and to make that easier, Midpen has implemented one-way routes on some popular loop trails. Please follow the signs. And, bring a face covering that you can use when you can't stay 6 feet apart! 

Thank you for doing your part and enjoying your public open space responsibly during the ongoing county stay-at-home orders. We've seen many of you practicing safe social distancing, wearing face masks and welcoming others by sharing the trails. We believe in the healing power of nature and that it is important for us all to be able to get outside to connect with and experience the positive emotional and physical health benefits of being in nature.

Your cooperation to help ensure the safety of our community has made a difference in flattening the curve. It remains important that each of us continue to do our part for the benefit of all.

Other changes may be implemented as needed in the future. Please remember to check trail conditions and preserve pages before leaving home.

Stay 6 feet apart. Walk single file. Step aside to allow others to pass. Do not gather. Face coverings required in publicDO YOUR PART

  • Stay home as much as possible. 
  • Maintain 6 feet away from others not in your household.
  • Avoid crowding: if the lot is full, the trails are full. Do not park on roadsides.
  • No gatherings allowed. Many common areas are closed.
  • Walk single file to allow others to pass safely.
  • Face coverings are required by health officials when you can’t maintain more than 6 feet of social distancing and are recommended at all times when recreating outdoors. Wear a bandanna or gaiter you can pull over your mouth and nose as needed.


  • Trails at some preserves restricted to one-way traffic to encourage social distancing – keep 6 feet apart from others not in your household.
  • Runners slow and yield to other trail users to maintain social distancing.  Pass only when safe to do so while keeping a 6-foot distance.
  • Parking is limited. Do not park on roadways. Return home if the lot is full. Restrictions around popular preserves have been posted for Highway 35, Purisima Creek Road and Higgins Canyon Road around Purisima Creek Preserve, Alpine Road around Russian Ridge, and Cristo Rey Drive near Rancho San Antonio.
  • Paper maps are no longer available at preserves. Please download a map before leaving home or snap a photo of the signboard map before you hike.
  • Many group areas are closed, including Deer Hollow Farm and the open air barn, Daniels Nature Center and picnic areas at Mount Umunhum, Picchetti Ranch and Rancho San Antonio.
  • All drinking fountains are CLOSED.
  • Leave no trace: pack out what you pack in. Most Midpen preserves do not have garbage cans and collection is limited.
  • Group activities are suspended, including docent-led hikes and volunteer projects.
  • In compliance with county health orders on social distancing most activity permits are currently suspended. Permits are available for permit parking areas, camping and fire reduction work.
  • Due to fireworks celebration cancellations and to maintain public safety and social distancing, Midpen will not permit access to traditional fireworks viewing areas after sunset on July 4 this year. 
  • The administrative office at 330 Distel Circle, Los Altos is CLOSED. Staff is available via telephone (650-691-1200) and email ( or individual emails) during regular business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Please continue to follow the guidance of your local county public health department to limit the spread of COVID-19:

Santa Clara County

San Mateo County

Santa Cruz County

The health and safety of our community, preserve visitors, volunteers and employees are Midpen’s top priority. We are following county health orders as we work to keep trails and preserves open to provide a safe opportunity for people to be in nature for mental, as well as physical, health during this public health emergency. 

Please be understanding, we are all in this together. Be responsible for your own behavior.

We’re grateful these public lands exist and that so many of you support efforts to protect, preserve, maintain and restore our natural and working lands for the benefit and enjoyment of our broader community.

A letter from the Midpen Board of Directors

We encourage you to stay close to home and look for nearby nature

Remember, you can always follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and enjoy nature from wherever you are!

Health Benefits of Nature

Even surrounded by the beauty the Bay Area offers, it’s sometimes easy to take nature for granted. We can be tied to our screens at work, surrounded by concrete at home, busy raising kids or working an extra job (or both!).

A growing body of research shows being in nature has real, quantifiable health benefits.

The Bay Area's own Center for Nature and Health sums it up: "The facts are clear. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the impact of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes is staggering. Mental health illnesses such as pediatric depression, anxiety, loneliness and feelings of isolation, all of which are related to poor health outcomes, are at an all-time high. Many of these conditions are preventable. All are costly. The incidence of chronic disease is higher among low-income children, children of color, and those with disabilities. Yet due to the high costs of care and uneven access, as a society we are experiencing a broad equity gap related to health outcomes. Exposure to nature is a low-cost, readily available resource for combating many of the conditions which contribute to chronic illness health inequity and high healthcare costs. However, there is a gap in evidence guiding the implementation of integrating nature into clinical and public health practice."

Richard Louv, who coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, says the results of nearly 1,000 studies “point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.”

Louv cofounded the Children and Nature Network, where making an evidence-based case for nature connection is part of the mission. The group’s recent infographic illustrates how studies show that spending time in nature provides children with a wide range of health benefits and offers these takeaways: Even before birth, nature exposure for mothers can promote better fetal growth and healthier birthrates, especially for mothers of lower education and socio-economic levels. Time spent outdoors in bright sunlight can reduce nearsightedness and increase vitamin D levels and access to parks and greenspace can foster increased physical activity, reduced risk of obesity and the likelihood that girls will remain active into adolescence. Learning in nature can support improved relationship skills, as well as reduced stress, anger and aggression.

A UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability report on California State Parks: A Valuable Resource for Youth Health summarizes the health benefits of time spent outdoors for youth, including: living near a park has substantial health benefits, time spent in parks has a positive impact on mental health, long-term exposure to green space can moderate symptoms of attention disorders, park use substantially reduces stress and can increase resiliency, and that park programs are cost-effective investments.

For adults, a scientific report on summarizes evidence that living in greener urban areas is associated with lower probabilities of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalization, mental distress, and ultimately mortality.

The American Public Health Association's policy statement on Improving Health and Wellness through Acess to Nature states: "Access to nature has been related to lower levels of mortality and illness, higher levels of outdoor physical activity, restoration from stress, a greater sense of well-being, and greater social capital." And further acknowledges that: "People evolved in natural environments, but urbanization, the industrialization of agriculture, and a shift to sedentary indoor lifestyles have distanced many people from nature, depriving them of the positive health benefits associated with natural light, green views, local biodiversity, natural landscapes, and gardens and parks near their homes, schools, and workplaces. Low-income and ethnic communities are most likely to lack these resources. A rapidly growing body of evidence establishes that protecting and restoring access to nature in different spheres of people’s lives, among those of all ages, social groups, and abilities, can alleviate some of the most important problems in public health, including obesity, stress, social isolation, injury, and violence."

In 2010, the National Recreation and Parks Association published an overview of scientific research to date on the relationship between nature and human health, concluding: “Yes, the benefits of nature that have been intuited and written about through the ages have withstood rigorous scientific scrutiny. Yes, we still find these benefits when we measure them objectively; yes, we still find these benefits when non-nature lovers are included in our studies; and yes, we still find these benefits even when income and other factors that could explain a nature-health link are taken into account. In the face of the tremendously diverse and rigorous tests to which the nature-human health hypothesis has been subjected, the strength, consistency, and convergence of the findings are remarkable.”

The University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spiritually & Healing offers these findings on how nature impacts our well-being.

A cost-benefit study in Lincoln, Nebraska found that for every $1 invested in trails for physical activity led to nearly $3 in direct medical benefits.

 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation lists numerous references that extoll the benefits of spending time outside and in forests makes us healthier by:

  • boosting the immune system
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing stress
  • improving mood
  • increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • accelerating recovery from surgery or illness
  • increasing energy level
  • improving sleep

Similarly, the American Society of Landscape Architects lists dozens of free research studies, news articles and  on the health benefits of nature on its website, categorizing them by health topics for adults and children.

A study by Georgetown University Medical Center found a surprising way sunlight benefits immunity (aside from Vitamin D).

In Britain, this longitudinal study showed people who moved to greener areas had significantly better mental health scores that were sustained. And another found that increased exposure to nature translated to community cohesion and substantially lower crime rates.

In fact, so much evidence exists linking time spent in nature to improved health outcomes, researchers are beginning to turn their attention to understanding how nature makes us healthier.

Others, like Gretchen Daily at Stanford University’s Natural Capital Project, are suggesting the mental health benefits of nature should be factored into economic models and that ecosystems are a capital asset.

Being in nature truly is an essential activity and Midpen is grateful our work to preserve, protect and restore nature can benefit the entire Bay Area by connecting people to these special places.

A letter from the Midpen Board of Directors

March 20, 2020

As we all face these extraordinary times in response to the COVID-19 order, the Board wants to thank everyone in the Midpen family for their efforts and successes in keeping most Midpen lands and trails open so people can get exercise, get out of their apartment or house, breathe in the fresh air, and have a respite in nature. We are proud of our staff for acting creatively and pro-actively so we can continue to serve the public in this way, while also continuing our constant work of managing our open spaces to protect our vital natural resources and enhance our overall regional resilience within our spectacular Bay Area home.

More than ever, we need “room to breathe”. Thank you for the support you have all shown Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District over the years, and please join us in thanking our staff for their dedication and continued work.

Good health to you all,

Ana Ruiz, General Manager            Karen Holman, Board President

Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. – John Muir

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