“A trail through a shaded wood on the edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains.”
— David Hitchcock
Views · Wildflowers
The Los Trances Preserve is open year round from dawn until half an hour past sunset. Bicyclists are not allowed on the trail, so it makes it for good running. These trails are rarely busy, so you can find solitude.
The trail has a very steep and rocky section to it, so be careful in this section. However, the rest of the trail is flat and running is easy through the area.
The Franciscan Loop Trail
departs the parking lot on Page Mill Road to the left. If you go straight out of the parking lot, you'll miss the best views in the preserve. The trail climbs gently as it works its way up a small hill before emerging at a bench where there are stunning views of the bay area. You can see various cities off in the distance, as well as the San Francisco Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains off to the left. The trail winds back to the right and meets up with the trail from the parking lot. Staying to the left, the trail reaches a fork, where you can either go left or right. It is better to stay to the left, as the trail begins to descend steeply into the preserve as it enters the woods. You can go the other way, but you have a steep climb on the way back.
As you descend into the preserve, you can see wildflowers blooming in the spring time. You'll pass an electrical tower as the trail descends steeply into the preserve. The trail levels off and comes to a clearing where the Lost Creek Loop Trail
goes off the left and the Franciscan Loop Trail
goes to the right. It hairpins back and begins to climb along a small ridge. The path works its way through an area full of moss covered rocks before turning back and following the ridge that slowly descends towards a fork in the trail where the Franciscan Loop Trail
goes off to the right and the Page Mill Trail
continues straight ahead.
From this point, the trail climbs back up hill toward Page Mill Road. The trail meanders through the woods before it open up to a small field, where deer and turkeys can be seen feeding in the evening. The trail works its way back to the parking lot, passing the San Andreas Fault Trail
, which breaks off to the right. The trail finally emerges back at the parking lot where you started.
The trails are not traveled heavily, so you are likely able to run the entire trail without seeing another person, making it a great escape.
Flora & Fauna
Deer, turkeys, woodpeckers, hawks, and squirrels can be seen throughout the trail, especially in the evenings at feeding time.