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Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

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  • Mountain biking in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Vistas in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Mountain bikers in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Few metropolitan areas have landscapes in their backyard that can dwarf adventurers like the open spaces in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Note the two bicyclists at the bottom of the frame.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Hikers share the trails in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Hikers and mountain bikers share the trails in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Mountain bikers in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • Vistas toward the Pacific Ocean from Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve.- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • The obvious parking lot for Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve on Skyline Boulevard (CA-35).- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
  • A convenient entrance to Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve from Skyline Boulevard (CA-35).- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Close to Silicon Valley. Lots of trails. Wonderful views.
Cons: 
Hikers and mountain bikers need to keep an eye out for each other.
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Region:
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
-600.00 ft (-182.88 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Trail difficulty: 
Green
Total Distance: 
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is a 3,137-acre park in the Santa Cruz mountains with big views, mixed terrain and vegetation, and multiple-use trails. The preserve has approximately 10 miles of trails, of which about 8 miles are available to bicyclists including: Ridge Trail, Ancient Oaks Trail, Charquin Trail, Hawk Ridge Trail, and a couple of small connectors. The preserve website states: "To protect a federally listed endangered species (the San Francisco garter snake), the Mindego Hill Trail is CLOSED to bicycle use beyond the intersection at the Charquin Trail."

Most of the trails in the preserve are singletrack, and there are a couple of sections of fire roads. Mountain biking is popular and welcome, with a few regulations to keep the peace. For more information visit the preserve's Bicycle Access page.

Russian Ridge is a well-regarded local hotspot for spring wildflowers, the beneficiary of energetic campaigns by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to curb the spread of invasive plant species. As you hike, look for blooming owl's clover, Johnny jump up, checker bloom, lupine, filaree, clarkia, California poppy, blue-eyed grass, mule ear sunflower, and tidytips. 

Wildlife species are also present in the preserve with regular sightings of deer, occasional sightings of coyote and bobcat, and rare mountain lion encounters. Numerous bird species flit about the woodlands and grassy hillsides with raptors patrolling from above, including American kestrels, northern harriers, red-tailed hawks, and even the occasional golden eagle.

If you find yourself wanting to spend a night in these hills, check out nearby Black Mountain Backpack Camp.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(16 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(118 within a 30 mile radius)

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