“A climb from Portola Valley to Skyline Boulevard with great views of the bay area.”
— David Hitchcock
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The Windy Hill Open Space Preserve is open 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset throughout the year.
The trail is uphill all the way, and there are some areas that are sloped and eroded, so footing can be difficult. However, runners are usually seen pushing themselves uphill in the mornings or evenings, getting in a good workout as they climb uphill.
The Spring Ridge Trail
climbs from the parking lot in Portola Valley to Skyline Boulevard through the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. The trail offers great views of the San Francisco Bay Area and the chance to see wildlife in the mornings and evenings as they come out to feed.
Departing the parking lot in Portola Valley, the trail comes to a split where the Betsy Crowder Trail
goes off to the right and the Spring Ridge Trail
goes to the left. The trail follows the preserve boundary for the first half mile. On the left side of the trail is a residential complex while on the right side is a pond that provides water for the wildlife in the preserve. Frogs can be heard in the evenings as you run along the trail. The trail is a doubletrack dirt trail that is eroded in certain places. At roughly .6 miles, the Spring Ridge Trail
breaks off to the right and starts to climb more steeply through the preserve.
Within a tenth of a mile, a small connector trail cuts off to the left and meets up with the Meadow Trail
and then in another tenth of a mile, the Betsy Crowder Trail
cuts off to the right and descends back to the parking lot on the other side of the pond. Climbing through the woods at this point, the trail works its way uphill at a steady rate. There are points where the trail is sloped and points where it is eroded, so watch your footing as you make your way uphill. At roughly 1.1 miles, the Meadow Trail
joins the trail from the left. From this point on, the trail opens up and climbs through the fields of the upper parts of the preserve. The trees give way to fields where rabbits feed beside the trail, and deer can be found feeding in the evenings. Views of the San Francisco Bay come into view as you climb higher. At 1.9 miles, the trail levels out and provides an excellent opportunity to take in the views.
At roughly 2.3 miles, a tub sits on the left side of the trail with water for horses to drink. It's not potable, so don't refill your water bottles here. The trail climbs steeply again until it begins to level out and finally comes to an end at a parking lot on Skyline Boulevard. If you follow the Anniversary Trail
to the left, that trail will take you to the summit of Windy Hill and then to the Lost Trail
. Meeting up with the Hamms Gulch Trail
, you can make your way back to the bottom of the preserve and meet up with the Spring Ridge Trail
. If you don't have the time, descend via the trail you climbed.
Flora & Fauna
Deer, rabbits, turkeys, and California quail can be seen along the trail. Birds can be seen and heard along the trail in the wooded sections.