State Route 35, or, Skyline Boulevard as we know it, is a two lane highway that runs along a ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains from western Santa Clara County all the way to San Francisco.
The views from the Skyline are fantastic…both the Pacific Ocean and San Fransisco Bay can be seen from many stops along the way. There are also many California State Parks, Santa Clara County Parks, and Open Space Districts along the Skyline. On this bright Sunday morning, I decided to hike at the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.
I started from the trailhead just off of the Skyline at the Alpine Road parking lot. There were several mountain bikers gearing up that I would see along the trails all day long. I started off along the Bay Area Ridge Trail http://www.ridgetrail.org/ which climbs steadily for about a mile. A short spur to the top of Borel Peak gave me this incredible view of a fog covered Pacific Ocean!
After admiring the view, along with several other hikers and bikers, I continued on the the Bay Area Ridge Trail for another mile to the junction of the Hawk Ridge Trail. I found it hard to keep a steady pace with such magnificent views!
At a water break, I set up my camera for my regular “look at me, I’m hiking number…” shot…and, stopped to admire the view of Pacific Ocean.
I cut over on the Hawk Ridge trail at about the 2 mile mark and headed down into the valleys of the preserve. This trail gently descends just below the ridge trail and into a tree covered canyon.
Yes, I could hear Hawks calling out in search of breakfast in the tree covered valley below…
After another 1.5 miles, the Hawk Ridge Trail ends at a junction with the Ancient Oaks Trail. This trail leaves the treeless grassy green ridge and enters a valley of…very old Oaks. I could hear several creeks spilling over small waterfalls as I hiked through this valley. After hiking in the bright sun for many miles, I had to take off my sunglasses as I traveled through the shadows of this tree covered trail through these “ancient oaks!” After nearly a mile, I left this valley and emerged from the shadows to be greeted by a bright sunbow overhead! I did my best to capture the colors…but, as always, my photographic talents couldn’t quite capture the moment…but, I guess, moments along the trail like this is why we love hiking!
As I neared the end of my day, a lone Oak on a south facing slope of Russian Ridge reminded me of just how great spring hiking is along Northern California’s green mountains!
I’d rate this 5.8 mile hike as easy/moderate. There are a couple of sections of climbing…but, no more than a few hundred feet. The views of the Pacific Ocean along Russian Ridge are pretty spectacular! There is no shade along most of these trails…bring a hat and sunscreen! As you know by now, bring a map to follow my rambling route…Trails: Bay Area Ridge > Borel Hill > Hawk Ridge > Ancient Oaks > Bay Area Ridge.
That’s 8 hikes and 49.7 miles…32 hikes and 150.3 miles to go!