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Stanford Dish: Ranch Road via Piers Gate

Intermediate

Trail

2.3 mile 3.7 kilometer out and back
93% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 295' 90 m
Descent: -295' -90 m
High: 466' 142 m
Low: 173' 53 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 13% (7°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by David Hitchcock

A run to the Stanford Dish from Alpine Road.

David Hitchcock

Features Views · Wildlife

The Stanford Dish area is closed in the evenings, and the times vary depending on the time of year. Please refer to the Stanford website (dish.stanford.edu) for hours that the trail is open.

Overview

A popular paved path with a gentle grade and some scenic views ending at the Stanford Dish.

Runner Notes

The trail is paved with asphalt and fairly wide (10-12 feet). It's a popular area for locals. There are two cattle guards that need to be crossed, and cow pies can be found on the trail, so watch your step. It's an uphill run, but that means that coming back, it's all downhill.

Description

The trailhead is on Alpine Road, a short distance from I-280. There is a small parking lot and an area for people to park along the road. The parking areas can be full on the weekends and in the evenings, so be careful as you are looking for a spot.

The trail crosses Los Trances Creek on a one-lane concrete bridge. It curves to the left and passes over another branch via a wooden bridge before the trail arrives at the gate into the Stanford Dish area. Once it passes through the gate, the trail gently curves around through a shaded area until the trail begins to climb around 0.25 miles. The trail climbs a small hill and the Stanford Dish comes into view at the top of the trail. It levels out for a while as it passes a cattle guard, used to keep the cattle that graze in the area from escaping. From here, the trail climbs gently toward the Dish.

This is the area where you are mostly likely to see wildlife, and the cows that graze here throughout the year. Squirrels feed on grass seeds on either side of the trail, and can be scurrying between the entrances to their tunnels. Snakes have been known to sun themselves along the trail, and in the winter tarantulas have been seen on the trail, so watch your step. Various species of hawks can be seen gliding on the air currents as they hunt for their next meal.

As the trail climbs toward the Dish, take the opportunity to turn around and take in the view of the surrounding hills and the interstate as it makes its way north. Leveling out around 0.9 miles, the trail approaches the Stanford Dish and a maintenance building. The Dish is used for research, so you may get lucky and witness them repositioning the Dish as you run by.

From here, the trail wraps around the Dish and makes a sharp left as it approaches the next cattle guard and the Stanford Dish Loop Trail. Views of the Stanford campus and the South Bay area lay before you, a reward for all the climbing that the trail has done.

From here, you can turn around and return to your car, or explore the Loop Trail. The trail is a 4-mile loop that rises and falls, following the contours of the hills in the area. It's popular for Stanford students and the locals who recreate here, especially on the weekends. If you're looking for solitude, this isn't the trail for you.

Flora & Fauna

There are all types of animals that call the Stanford Dish area home. Deer, coyotes, snakes, frogs, tarantulas, squirrels, and various species of hawks can be seen while continuing along the trail or on the trail itself.

Stanford leases the land around the Dish to area farmers, so cattle may be grazing in the area as well, sometimes using the trail to get from one area to another. If you move around them and don't bother them, you'll be fine.

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  3.5 from 2 votes

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1,281 Since Mar 6, 2016
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Photos

The Stanford Dish and moon at sunset.
Mar 6, 2016 near Ladera, CA
A woodpecker sits on a branch alongside the trail.  You can hear them, and catch glimpses of them, as you climb through the lower part of the trail which is more wooded due to its proximity to the creek.
Mar 6, 2016 near Ladera, CA
People enjoy the Stanford Dish Loop Trail on a sunny spring day.
Mar 6, 2016 near Ladera, CA
View from the trail of the surrounding hills as fog rolls in late in the day.
Mar 6, 2016 near Ladera, CA
The Dish is still operational today. This picture was taken before it was repositioned that day.
Mar 12, 2016 near Ladera, CA
Squirrels burrow in the ground off to the sides of the trail. You'll see them feeding on grass seeds and hear them as they chirp warnings to each other.
Mar 6, 2016 near Ladera, CA

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