On a “wow” ratio (a scientific equation of number of “wows” divided by the number of people on the trails), Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is near the top of the list for the Bay Area. Few open spaces provide as many Peninsula-packed panoramas, with so little foot traffic. A 3.5-mile loop begins as a nice walk along an exposed fire road and transforms into a horizon-filled wonderland along a ridge. The views soon give way to a canopied trail of gnarled and mossy live oaks. It’s a pleasant change of pace that pops out to more golden hills, and unencumbered views from the Pacific all the way to the Diablo range. Top off the hike at the tallest point in the preserve, Borel Hill (2,572 feet). Afterwards head to Thomas Fogarty Winery just a few miles up the road. Sample estate pinots in their tasting room and take in even more views—from Palo Alto to Mount Hamilton. Wow.
Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is west of Palo Alto on Highway 35. For directions, visit the Web site. Pick up a map from the kiosk in the parking lot and walk up the Ridge Trail. After .5-mile follow the sign left toward the Ancient Oaks Trail. Turn right at .8-mile following more signs to get onto Ancient Oaks. After 1.5 miles, turn right onto the Mindego Ridge Trail. Turn right at the next junction, following the sign toward the Ridge Trail. At the following junction, turn right onto the Ridge Trail and follow the wide fire road up to Borel Hill. The parking lot is another .75-mile down the trail. No dogs. Thomas Fogarty Winery, 19501 Skyline Blvd., Woodside; 650-851-6777. The winery is 2.5 miles north on Highway 35. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s $8 to taste three wines and $12 to taste five wines.