The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Saratoga Gap, Skyline Ridge and Russian Ridge undulates through shady oak and bay laurel woodlands and exposed grasslands. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space preserves include classic views of the layered interior of the Santa Cruz Mountains and glimpses of San Francisco Bay.
We are hiking the 395-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.
Trail maps & dates hiked:
- Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve (July 3, 2021)
- Skyline Ridge and Russia Ridge Open Space preserves (July 7, 2021)
Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve:
Hiking with friends and dining alfresco afterward may be the ultimate way to enjoy the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
We spent a sunny day on the trail with a couple that we met on a 2019 hiking tour of Patagonia. That tour was characterized by challenging hikes followed by leisurely dinners chatting with a companionable group of outdoors enthusiasts. And lots of good Argentinian and Chilean wine. It was a magical trip. We have met with our new friends for hikes and meals a few times since returning, and we were looking forward to seeing them after long months of COVID isolation.
Our 8-mile trail du jour was mostly downhill in the direction we chose, with a short uphill slog at the end. The miles melted away as we chatted about our overly stationary lives of the past 18 months. Having Bay Area open space to roam has been a balm to all of us.
We staged celebratory afternoon drinks and a late lunch on the back patio of the Big Basin Burger Bar in Saratoga, toasting the joy of meeting with friends again.
Skyline and Russian Ridge Open Space preserves:
Weather in the San Francisco Bay Area is all about microclimates. Anticipating the temperature on a ridge from the forecast for a city below is guesswork, at best.
Our best guesstimate for our morning hike across the two open space preserves was a high of 78 by mid-afternoon. The guesstimate was wrong. We hit the trail at about 9 a.m. with the trailhead temperature already sitting at 83 degrees.
The reading gave us pause. But we had plenty of water in our pack and the five-mile “easy” trail held minimal elevation gain, so we forged ahead.
We had hiked both preserves on more temperate days before we began our Ridge Trail odyssey. (Find our original Skyline Ridge post here, and the original Russian Ridge post here.) Unfortunately, the heat blunted the joys of the trail on this visit. The temperature was pushing 90 as we finished up our hike just before noon, red-faced and relieved.
We couldn’t help but roll our eyes while driving home north on Skyline Boulevard as the temperature reading dropped to 80 at Woodside and 70 at the intersection with Highway 92 above Half Moon Bay. The temperature at our home microclimate in Montara sat at 60.
There’s no place like home.
Miles we hiked0
(with returns and connectors)
Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 88.5 out of 395 miles22.4%