Straddling the heights of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Long Ridge Open Space Preserve
is a tapestry of open grassland, wooden hills, and gentle canyons. Go now to capture autumn hues and big views on a 4.6-mile loop hike. From Skyline Boulevard, the Peters Creek Trail descends to follow its namesake creek (currently at a trickle) flanked by tall oaks and big-leaf maples that add golden tinges to the landscape. There’s also a certain shiny red leaf keeping things ripe: poison oak glows in these parts, so don’t get too close or your skin may end up glowing, too. As the trail climbs up to Long Ridge Road, uninterrupted west-facing ridge-top views overlook Big Basin’s swath of evergreens. Take a seat at the hidden Stegner Bench (at gated junction LR04) and watch for grazing mule deer and soaring red-tailed hawks. Get ready to go Long!
From Saratoga, follow Route 9 up to Skyline Blvd. (Route 35). Take a right (heading north) on Skyline and continue for 2 miles to the Grizzly Flat trailhead. Park there and walk to the gate across Skyline Blvd. to start the hike. Follow Peters Creek Trail to the intersection with Ward Road and Long Ridge Rd. Turn right on Long Ridge Rd. Continue on Long Ridge until it terminates at the Peters Creek Trail intersection. Turn left on Peters Creek to return to the trailhead. No dogs.