It’s a guilty pleasure to bag a peak via a short hike. That’s why you should shamelessly steal some spectacular views on a 3.5-mile loop hike in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. Starting on the Ridge Trail, spectacular ocean views keep you company on a gentle 0.8-mile climb to the peak of Borel Hill, the highest named point in San Mateo County.
Here you’ll get stunning 360-degree views of Mount Diablo to the east, the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south, and Mount Tamalpais and the bay to the north. Soak it in and descend to the intersection of the Ridge Trail and the Charquin Trail, then head left on Charquin, following it to Ancient Oaks Trail, where the scenery changes to a canopy of oak trees fringed by ferns.
The trail narrows as you begin gently ascending again, emerging from the oaks to the surrounding hills. At Ridge Trail, head right and descend half a mile back to the parking lot.
BONUS PICNIC: Before heading home, cross the parking lot for the entrance to Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, and walk the short 0.1 mile to Alpine Pond. There’s a nice picnic table by the pond.
Follow Skyline Blvd. (Hwy. 35) to the intersection of Alpine Rd. and Page Mill Rd (map). Parking is free. No dogs.