Nice not great hike. I left a photo of a Tafoni cave and an overlook, which you can only get to by leaving this route at about 1 mile if you take it counter clockwise, and crossing the private road, looking for a faint use trail, mostly used by climbers I suspect.
Great hike year round, but probably best in the cooler seasons since most of the hike is in the sun. I hiked this on a Saturday and there were maybe 10 cars in the lot and 10 more in the Russian Ridge lot.
There are great views of the ocean on a clear day, and when you get to Borel Hill of Silicon Valley. Mostly rolling hills but there are a few nice climbs that get the heart rate going. The Russian Ridge area looks like a great trail running spot for newbies like me. Looking forward to going back.
(A 4 means it's a worthwhile hike, but there was nothing jaw dropping about it so it didn't get a 5)
This place is pretty great for the most part. The trails are very easy to follow and it's not very crowded. My favorite trails are Ancient Oak and the northern end of Ridge Trail. Lots of single track fun, but the climbs are long. The northern end of THE Ridge Trail is only fun going down but coming back up does not look like an easy task. I opted to go the route of taking Skyline back to the vista park gate where it reunite with trail system. Overall the single tracks are very fun with mostly easy to sections of moderate technicality. I have connect this ride with the neighboring Coal Creek OSP which has some fun single tracks and also Monte Bello.
We went there with our almost 3years old son. The trail offered so many attractions for him and so much variety of the landscape that he walked for 2.2 miles all by himself. Starting from the parking lot, there is a small tunnel under the road entering the wild area. That was already a highlight for him - running and shouting through it and getting all the echo in return :) Then you reach the Alpine pond - another highlight by itself. After we spent 20-30 minutes playing around it, we went for the hike. You have a climbing (~200 feet elevation) on the northern side of the trail. It goes through the wood, so we had shadow during the climbing. While it was bit chilly (in March), this would be perfect for hotter days. The return goes on the south side and the landscape changes a lot. This part of the trail is sunny. It offers an awesome view to the Pacific ocean. A lovely wooden bench under a lonesome tree was one of the highlights here - great to take a 10-15 minutes break. Reaching back the pond, we found the small Indians' mortars site - no need to mention how exciting this was for our son :)
There is a small short-cut from the northern side to the southern side right next to the top. We saw that our son won't make the whole track, so we got the short-cut - one more great feature of this trail for families bringing their little explorers outdoors for the first time.
Next time, we hope we will make the full track.
This is what Northern California trail running is all about. Once you are up on the trail ridge, you can view all of the Portola Valley and Palo Alto below you on one side, while taking in the rolling Coastline mountains on the other. I have been checking out about 2 of these Open Space Preserves off the 280 per month, and man, they are epic. Put on some tunes (if you are a music streamer while you run or bike) and get ready to fly.