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Rogue Valley Loop at Rancho San Antonio

9 miles; 1450 ft climbing; moderate to strenuous
Wildcat Loop Trail —> Upper Rogue Valley Trail —> Rogue Valley Trail —> Wildcat Loop Trail —> High Meadow Trail

Don't go to Rancho San Antonio expecting a solitary wilderness experience. Instead, embrace the crowds and find happiness in the fact that so many other folks are out enjoying nature; savor the sounds of laughter and conversation that float through the trees. You may also want to wear your hippest hiking duds, as the park is definitely a place to see and be seen.

This 9-mile loop to the Rogue Valley Trail and back provides a good sense of the park, and there is just enough elevation gain to keep things interesting and offer some great views. 

Setting out from the main parking area near the bathrooms, follow the wide Permanente Creek Trail to the left, and briefly take the PG&E Trail up the hill. At the junction near the water tank, turn onto lovely, shaded Coyote Trail

At the next junction, pass through the wooden gate and onto the Wildcat Loop Trail, which climbs gently along a creek before emerging into the sunlight at a 5-way junction. One direction heads to a scenic vista point, which is worth the quick trip. After checking out the views of Cupertino and Mountain View, take either of the two trails that continue to head UP—the one to the left is a bit more exposed, wider and steeper, while the other wanders through the shade, but they connect again shortly. Then veer right onto the Upper Rogue Valley Trail and cruise down a long downhill section. The crowds are a bit thinner out here, and a hairpin turn takes you onto the lower section of the Rogue Valley Trail

The trail passes a medium-sized reservoir (marked as a pond on the map) and flattens out, and you will want to turn right, back onto the Wildcat Loop Trail*, and march up the neatly numbered switchbacks until you return to the same large 5-way junction. This time, take a left onto the High Meadow Trail—one of the highlights of this route. It wanders down past a series of beautiful meadows dotted with oak trees before connecting to another junction you passed through earlier. From this point, retrace your steps along the Coyote Trail and the PG&E Trail back to the parking lot.

* You can shave a couple of miles off this route by staying on Rogue Valley Trail until you get to Deer Hollow Farm, then following Lower Meadow Trail/the service road back to the parking lot.

—Words and photos by Kelsey Farabee

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