Sprawling in the distance beyond Peninsula’s Skyline Boulevard are acres of open space and hills that in spring are absolutely superb for fresh scenery (and wildflowers!). Thanks to the efforts of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, you can hike through some stunning canyons canopied by ancient oaks and opening up to huge views.
The Mindego Gateway trailhead in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve gives new access to wide-open meadows, forests, and amazing vistas of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Right from the parking lot there’s a brilliant vista of hills galloping all the way to the ocean., Closer in view is beautiful Mindego Hill! For a greatest hits overview, follow the Ancient Oaks connector trail, which leads you into a forest wonderland of moss-covered live oaks, madrone, and Douglas fir. Make a 3.4-mile counterclockwise loop hike by connecting Ancient Oaks, Charquin, and Mindego Hill trails.
Back at the start of the hike, don’t miss the opportunity to take in the Audrey Rust Commemorative Site. There’s a bench overlooking Butano Ridge and the Pescadero Creek drainage, all the way to the Pacific.
BONUS: This Saturday (March 25) celebrate spring on a 5.5-mile docent led out-and-back hike on Mindego Hill Trail to the top of Mindego Hill. Kim Borick and Gerri Tiernan will lead the adventure, pointing out the wildflowers and sharing stories of the area. Bring a lunch to enjoy at the apex of the hill, with its wowing panorama!