Alpine Pond Trail, Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve,
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Preserve,
San Mateo County
In brief:
1/2 mile easy loop around Alpine Pond.

Distance, category, and difficulty
This 0.5 mile loop hike on a flat trail is very easy.

Mostly exposed.

Trail traffic:

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails.

Hiking time:
Under 1 hour.

Nice year round.

Getting there:
From Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, exit CA 84/Woodside Road (exit #20). Drive west about 6 miles to the junction with CA 35 (Skyline Boulevard), and turn south (left) onto Skyline Boulevard. Drive about 7.5 miles to the junction with Alpine Road/Page Mill Road. Turn right onto Alpine Road, and almost immediately, turn right into the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3718'54.91"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Pay phone, gas, restaurants, and store at the junction of 35 and 84, about 7.5 miles north. No camping in the preserve.

Trailhead details:
Two designated handicapped parking spots, and lots of other parking in a flat gravel lot. No entrance or parking fees. Maps available at the information signboard(s). Pit toilet at edge of lot, and there is a wheelchair-accessible pit toilet off the trail at Alpine Pond. There is no direct public transportation to this preserve.

Most trails are multi-use. A few are designated hiking only. No dogs. Park is open from dawn to 1/2 hour after sunset.

The Official Story:
MROSD's Skyline Ridge page.
MROSD field office 650-691-1200.

Map Options:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get to the preserve
Map from MROSD (download pdf).
Peninsula Tales and Trails, by David Weintraub (order this book from has an overview of the preserve, descriptions of hikes, and simple maps.
• The Trail Center's Trail Map of the Southern Peninsula is useful if you already have it.

Alpine Pond loop in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the hike.

View 23 photos from the featured hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

Skyline Ridge features 2 all-access trails that visit the preserve's2 small ponds. TrailheadThe trails around Horseshoe Lake are described on that page; this page highlights the paths around Alpine Pond.
     Start at the Russian Ridge parking lot and head southeast toward Alpine Road. Following the signs for the Ridge Trail and Alpine Pond Trail, descend on a gently graded dirt path past an information signboard to a tunnel under Alpine Road. As you emerge into Skyline Ridge, look for a currant bush to the left, lovely with pink flowers in the gloomy early months of the year. Although the shores of the pond are dominated by moisture-loving plants such as willow, dock, and cattails, this stretch of the trail is lined with oak and coyote brush. Ridge Trail levelly winds past the other end of the loop departing to the right, and an unmarked trail that enters from the left. Continue straight. The Daniels Nature Center perches on the water's edge ahead; it's a fine educational pit stop (open mostly weekends in the summer). Just past the building the trail splits at a signed junction. Stay to the right on the Pond Loop Trail.Path around Alpine Pond
     You may also want to use the wheelchair-accessible viewing station to the right, before resuming the loop. Pond Loop Trail continues on a flat course, under Monterey pines. At the edge of the pond, you'll reach a signed junction and wheelchair-accessible pit toilet. Turn right, following along the shore of the pond. This is the best place to look for crayfish (best bet is when the water level is low), in the muddy shoreline. Pond Loop Trail curves right near some oaks, then crosses a bridge and reaches a signed junction with a trail that crosses Alpine Road. Continue to the right. Look for the pretty silvery leaves of white poplars to the left, and blackberry bushes on the right. You may see or hear quail in the dense undergrowth. Pond Loop Trail meets Ridge Trail at a previously encountered junction. Turn left and retrace your steps (or wheel tracks) to the trailhead.

Total distance: 0.5 mile
Last hiked: Friday, August 4, 2006