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.