After heavy rains, the rolling headwaters of Peters Creek in Long Ridge Open Space Preserve pulsate along the forest floor via a series of small waterfalls that cut grooves in sandstone boulders. See it on a 4.5-mile loop hike starting from the Grizzly Flat parking lot. Wind 0.6 mile down toward a forest of Douglas fir and rushing Peters Creek, a serpentine stream after rains. Follow the water left, over a bridge and upstream through a valley of vibrant greens.
After about a mile along the creek, turn right at a man-made lake and cross the dam to emerge onto Long Ridge at Ward Road. Another right turn at the street sign onto a ridgeline fire road passes open fields and a granite bench dedicated to Wallace Stegner, a Stanford author and conservationist. Enjoy views to the Pacific and perhaps some early blooming wildflowers. A junction just past the bench leads back down into the forest and straight through another junction onto Long Ridge Trail, which loops around for 0.7 mile before a left turn leads 0.6 mile back to Hwy. 35.
BONUS: Thomas Fogarty Winery is 7 miles northwest of the trailhead on Skyline Blvd. Pair a pinot with vistas of the entire Bay Area behind vineyards in their deep green winter depths.
From I-280, take exit 24 and go west on Sand Hill Rd. After 2 miles turn right onto Portola Rd., and then a sharp left onto CA-84 W/La Honda Rd. for 3.5 miles. Turn left onto CA-35/Skyline Blvd. and follow it 7 miles past Thomas Fogarty Winery to the Grizzly Flat trailhead parking lot on the left. Trailhead is across the street, so you’ll have to cross Hwy. 35. Free parking. No dogs.