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Alpine Pond to Horseshoe Lake is a 3.3 mile loop trail located near La Honda, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Length 3.3 mi Elevation gain 718 ft Route type Loop

Kid friendly

Hiking

Mountain biking

Nature trips

Walking

Running

Lake

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (8)
Facilities
Contact
Tips
Getting There

This is one of the prettiest places in the string of open-space preserves along Highway 35, also known as Skyline Boulevard. That's saying something, given the abundant beauty in this stretch of the Santa Cruz Mountains between Santa Cruz and San Francisco. A nature center looks out over the lake. While it's possible to hike more than 20 miles at a stretch in the interconnected preserves of the Midpeninsula Open Space District, it's also nice to keep it simple with an easy stroll around a pond and a not-too-difficult hike to the hillsides nearby. This hike starts near Alpine Pond, moves on to the Ipewa Trail and loops back toward the pond via the Sunny Jim Trail. If you feel like more exploring, look for the Ohlone Indians' mortars behind a few rocks southwest of Alpine Pond. The Ohlones used these mortars to grind acorns into flour.

Hours: Open a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset. Parking: Free

Midpeninsula OSD contact: (650) 691-1200 Skyline RIdge OSP website http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_skyline_ridge.asp

Wear sunscreen; most of this hike is unshaded. The nature center is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends from April through November.

Take Highway 35 to the intersection with Page Mill Road, turn south and take the first right into the parking lot of Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. From there, take the tunnel under the road to Alpine Lake.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (137)
Photos (904)
Recordings (135)
Completed (328)
Ju-Yun Cheng
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
HikingBugs
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Kavya Goyal
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingBugsNo shadeRockyScramble
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Patrice Lucas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun May 24 2020
Hiking

Beautiful day, gorgeous views, poppies in bloom, started around 930am, moderately trafficked for the most part but a bit more busy on the out/back segment so skipped that part and just did the loop, enjoyable moderate hike

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Ryuichi E
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Apr 27 2020
HikingBugs

A fairly easy trail with lots of animals. There were a ton of small lizards and small flocks of birds that were moving about and I jumped a few times because they started moving so suddenly. I would recommend long pants and long sleeves for this hike because the brush in some places can get up on you. Parking at the Russian Ridge parking lot.

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Casandra Armenta
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarWed Apr 15 2020
HikingBugs

It has very pretty views! My son loved all the look out spots! The second half of the trail is all up hill but on about a mile. Pretty doable. A lot of poison ivy/oak. Otherwise it was a very nice day out with the family!

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Tiffany Bautista
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Apr 14 2020
Hiking

Great hike with beautiful views of the hills. It’s a great moderate hike with only a few uphill moments.

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Nicole Buchheit
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Apr 12 2020
Hiking

Great hike! Beautiful views, saw a turkey and deer!

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Patricia Mendez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jan 05 2020
Hiking

amazing views, nice shade

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Beth Pollak
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Nov 25 2019
Hiking

Gorgeous hike with surprisingly spectacular views on the way to Horseshoe Lake. We added an extra 1.5 miles by hiking around the Horseshoe Lake Trail, which was serene and beautiful. Excellent moderate hike.

Shanelle Peterson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Aug 31 2019
HikingBugs

Beautiful views. Parts of it was narrow and high up and probably wouldn’t be appropriate for younger kids unless they were really good on the trails. We found a lot of bugs I most areas. Otherwise fun trail

Elaine Yu
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Aug 31 2019
HikingBugsNo shade
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Angela B
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Aug 04 2019
Hiking

Very nice trail. Not really worth going all the way down to the second lake. I also would recommend going the loop the other way around.

Benjamin Wollen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Apr 06 2019
HikingMuddy
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Nagarjun Srinivasan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Sep 23 2018

A nice short hike. Several options to lengthen or shorten the loop. A few steep portions but the stretches aren’t too long. loads of restrooms on the way and ample parking. A great 2 hr nature walk

DeAnna Mirzadegan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue May 29 2018

Fun trail that is not very intense. A few hills, mostly when you come back up from Horseshoe lake. At the beginning you can hear road noise but once you go almost a mile it is more serene.

Hanna Shatanionak
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon May 07 2018

Great views

Nathan Parker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Feb 03 2018
Hiking

Beautiful views of ocean and bay. Some sunny spots and some dark, oak-shaded spots. We had a nice picnic lunch by horseshoe lake, watching the mallards and koots.

Sabrina Lawrence
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jan 21 2018
Hiking

Great hike, nice lakes and pleasant views. We took Butano Loop off Sunny Jim and signage didn’t point us towards Alpine Pond so we had to backtrack. Worth it as Alpine is peaceful and serene. Came back Ipiwa and the around Horseshoe. We logged a little over 5 miles.

Suchitra Panigrahi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Dec 23 2017

Great place for hiking.

Gokul Iyer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri May 05 2017
Hiking

Must do trail Ipiwa trail from Alpine Pond to Horseshoe lake, take the rim trail around Horse shoe, then return Sunny Jim trail to Butano trail to Sunny Jim trail back to alpine pond to trail head. About 3 miles, Do it with you family including kids. Not too bad, moderate, some moderate climb on return, look/beware for/of rattle snakes in the brush (We saw two) , spring wild flowers were awesome, can see the great Pacific ocean from the Ipiwa trail. Picnic Benches around both pond and lake rim and couple on trail

Srinivasan Subbaraman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Dec 28 2016
Hiking

Excellent hike. Trail was 2.5 miles at best (not 3.5 miles as shown), also is not difficult (flat except for few sections). It's not crowded and great opportunity to spot red shouldered hawk, red tailed hawk, moorhen and spotted towhee.

AllTrails User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 10 2013

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.

Joost Schreve
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Apr 07 2012

We followed this guide today with 3 generations of my family. The trail is short and easy, which is great for small kids. The tour stops (POIs) are well laid out along the trail and make for an engaging experience. It really makes this otherwise straightforward hike a lot more interesting, and you notice things you wouldn't notice by just following the trail without the guide. The Daniels nature center was the highlight for the kids, esp the life-sized food chain puzzle on the wall. There are 2 picnic tables next to the nature center. Everyone had a great time. Highly recommended. TIPS: * There is no cell phone data coverage, so make sure you download everything to your device ahead of time. * The temperature here can be quite a bit lower than in the valley, due to elevation (about 700m / 2100 ft).

Michael Ghrist
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFri Jun 17 2011
Hiking

I wandered up to the Skyline Ridge open space this afternoon, and what a beautiful drive up! I had never been in the area before and it is a gorgeous. The trails are nice, well marked and fairly easy to navigate. I walked around for several hours, to the alpine pond, across some nice ridges and through large wooded valley. All in all a nice outing...

Amanda Fasenmyer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
Hiking
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Michelle Adrong
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 04 2020
Hiking
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