Long Ridge Open Space Preserve

On a ridge between Silicon Valley and the Pacific: a hiking and mountain biking paradise with a memorial to a literary hero.

No wonder the area now known as the Long Ridge Open Space Preserve inspired the great environmental author Wallace Stegner. This preserve is an idyllic gem that sits at the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

As the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District says, Long Ridge has something for everyone. It can be explored by foot, bike or horseback (although there are restrictions depending on conditions). It offers both long and short hikes, as well as out-and-backs and loop options. It ranges in ecosystems from cool, creekside forest to sweeping, breathtaking grasslands overlooking the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean—a view your iPhone can’t adequately capture.

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Walk across the picturesque Peters Creek Bridge, absorb the view and inspiration from the Wallace Stegner bench, or simply take a seat in the grass for a snack break. This preserve is both welcoming and beautiful.

GOOD FOR: Moderate day hiking with dramatic and rewarding views, and mountain biking for the whole family. Dogs are allowed on one or two trails at the park's north end.

DON’T MISS: The inspiring view from the Wallace Stegner Bench, especially at sunset. If you don’t plan to be there at that time, you’ll wish you had.

NEVER FEAR: The trails are well signed and well maintained. A helpful map of the Long Ridge Open Space Preserve can be found here, but there is not much risk of getting lost in this preserve, nor do you need to bring a handy-dandy GPS device.

KIND OF A BUMMER: There is traffic noise that varies in volume in a lot of the preserve (besides the Long Ridge Road) as well as faint gunshot echoes from the Los Altos Rod and Gun Club down the road.

YOUR MOTHER WOULD TELL YOU TO: Wear a helmet at all times on the trail if you’re biking or riding a horse (it’s required, anyway). Bring sunscreen on those warm summer days and a wind layer if you’re hiking the Long Ridge Road, as it can be windy and exposed on one section of this loop. Always walk or ride on the right side of the trail and be aware of hikers and mountain bikers, especially on weekends.

NOT A SINGLE LUXURY: Because this is a preserve and not a park, there are no bathrooms, drinking water fountains, picnic tables, snack bars or stores.

22499 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95033. 650.691.1200. Learn more at the official Long Ridge Open Space Preserve website. View a map of the Long Ridge area.

Directions and parking: Long Ridge Open Space Preserve is 2.2 miles north of the intersection of Hwy 35 and Hwy 9. There is limited parking on both sides of Skyline Blvd/Hwy 35 at Grizzly Flat Trailhead (also used for Upper Stevens Creek County Park); find maps here. Park only in designated areas. A parking lot for Long Ridge Open Space Preserve is a quarter-mile south of Portola Heights Road. There are also preserve entrances just south from the Grizzly Flat parking at gates LR10 and LR09, which drops you right in at Peters Creek Trail. These entrances have very limited parking.

—Allison B. Titus

Peters Creek Trail to Long Ridge Road Loop
4.6 miles; 2.5 hours on foot; moderate
This route is popular with hikers and mountain bikers alike.

Bay Area Ridge Trail to Skyline Open Space Preserve Boundary and back
1.8 miles; no elevation gain; 1 hour on foot; easy
This short out-and-back hike starts from the Grizzly Flat parking area, and is great for dog-walking and horseback riding.