Nearby places to enjoy the outdoors this weekend

by Linda Hubbard on March 20, 2020

Friday, March 20 — the first day of Spring— has been circled on our calendar as time to write a post on places to enjoy the outdoors. Little did we know that a walk or hike or bike ride would be about all we could enjoy in this time of staying-at-home in the hopes of mitigating the coronavirus,

Here are some close to home suggestions for a getting a bit of fresh spring air before another round of rain hits this coming week. Note: Please do remain at home and indoors if you are feeling at all ill.  And maintain a distance of six feet apart from others, except for members of your household.

Wide paths make distancing easy. For a short stroll, the walk around the lake in Sharon Park is a good choice. The ever-popular, just under four miles Big Dish path provides a more robust workout. But please, please maintain your distance from others; a posted sign warns that it could face closure if people don’t obey. Top photo shows the “little” Dish.

The Alpine Trail starts just beyond the intersection of Sand Hill Rd. and Santa Cruz Ave. and becomes the Dwight F. Crowder Memorial Bicycle Path in Ladera, extending to Portola Rd. where you can continue to the base of Windy Hill (another good choice, particularly the Spring Ridge Trail). It goes gently uphill in the westerly direction, enough so, if walked or jogged briskly, can get your heart rate up.

On a walk out there yesterday, starting from Portola and Alpine Rd., we did a zig-zaggy loop that included a new trail for us — Hillbrook, part of the Portola Valley trail system. It’s off Alpine on the same side of the street as Roberts Market. After climbing steadily but not steeply, we were greeted by the most gorgeous display of poppies, field after field of them. The photo above shows just one cluster but we liked the composition of fence, barren tree and puffy clouds.

We roamed around the ridge tops using the Priory Trail before joining Veronica Trail which intersects with Hillbrook to take you back to Alpine Rd. for distance of about two miles. Note: These trails are not all wide enough to be six feet apart side-by-side, but you can be six feet apart single file.

Venturing a bit further afield, we recommend Lower La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve, which is off Sears Ranch Rd. near the town of La Honda and features nice wide ranch roads (pictured above). This was — and is — cattle country, and hikers and equestrians are reminded to give the herds the right of way. Departing from the parking lot, the trail takes you gradually up, before descending – steeply at times – to Harrington Creek. Climbing back up from the creek, you can continue and do a route that includes Folger Ranch Loop Trail for total a distance of six miles.

Here are links to the area’s major open space/park systems where can you can get more ideas:

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Trust

Peninsula Open Space Trust

San Mateo County Parks

Santa Clara County Parks

Photos by Linda Hubbard, except for poppy photo by Dennis Nugent (c) 2020

One Comment

Kylee March 20, 2020 at 3:50 pm

There are a lot of great trails around the bayshore (Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto). Some of these are very scenic and most are much less crowded than the trails mentioned in this article.

We don’t go to the dish anymore. The trails are too narrow and too crowded. If anyone is walking side-by-side, there is no way to pass them with 6 feet of clearance.

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