Wild riding and wildflowers team up in Palo Alto’s western foothills for a beginner-friendly singletrack mountain bike ride that’s anything but garden-variety. Thanks to the dynamic mix of riparian, oak woodland and grassland terrain, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve
puts on a star-studded spectacle featuring some of the Bay Area’s favorite spring flowers. See them from the best seat in the house on a rolling mountain bike ride that starts on the flat and gravelly Arastradero Creek Trail. The hillside beams with fiddlegrass, lupines, buttercups, poppies, and blue-eyed grass. Drama builds in the southwestern corner of the park which packs some serious singletrack punch: Weave up the Woodrat Trail’s switchbacks, under the cover of an oak tree canopy, and emerge in the open field where you’re greeted by a cluster of purple lupine and trailside poppy. (The Bowl Loop Trail has an optional surprise for the fearless: a mini dirt jump park.) Cruise back on the Meadowlark Trail, mixing good views with a gentle downhill slope through savanna grassland punctuated by stately blue oaks and the occasional sunflower batch. Saddle up for this Best in Show before its seasonal run ends.
To reach the main entrance of Arastradero Preserve (Gate A), take exit 20 on I-280 for Page Mill Rd. Stay right at the fork, following signs for Arastradero Rd. West. Turn right on Arastradero Rd. and go half a mile. Arastradero is compact enough—you’re never more than 2 miles from the parking area—that you can ride any trail without fear of getting lost. Here’s a 5-mile route that hits the highlights: From the lot, cross the road to pick up the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. At Arastradero Lake, merge left onto the Arastradero Creek Trail. Ascend the Woodrat Trail and then turn left on the Meadowlark Trail; take the Vista Point side trail for a great view of the bay. Join back up with the Meadowlark Trail and keep left to join the Bowl Loop Trail. Meet back up with the Meadowlark Trail and turn right. Turn left on the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail and then right on the Paseo del Roble Trail. Take the Wild Rye Trail back to the lot. Dog-friendly!