Ridgetop hiking? Check. Picnic-worthy lakes? Check. Sweeping ocean views? Check. It’s hard to imagine all of this packed into one spot, but you can find it at the Peninsula’s Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. Start this gentle 1.5-mile hike at Alpine Pond—if it’s a sunny day, be on the lookout for turtles—and follow wooded pathways before emerging onto the preserve’s dramatic slope-side trail. From there, layer upon layer of deep green mountains and golden hills rise and fall in all directions; if the weather is clear, you can see all the way to the white-capped Pacific. Continue until you reach Horseshoe Lake, where you can watch the ducks while you snack at one of the picnic tables that surround the lake. Then head back the way you came.
TIP: When you’ve finished the ridge route, relax and refresh at Thomas Fogarty Winery just up the road. Their gewürztraminer goes especially well with those gorgeous views of the South Bay.
Thomas Fogarty Winery, 19501 Skyline Blvd., Woodside; 650-851-6777.
Directions: Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve is west of Palo Alto off of Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd.). Park at the the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot on Alpine Rd., and follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail from Alpine Pond to Horseshoe Lake. For more information about Skyline Ridge and for directions to the hike, click here.