“A cool, shaded trail along an old road through oak and madrone forests.”
— David Hitchcock
Fall Colors · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
The preserve is open year round from dawn until half an hour after sunset.
While the trail is wide, there are several sections which are very steep and eroded in places. Due to its location in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the area gets more precipitation than the valley and is slightly cooler, so be prepared for wet conditions even if it hasn't rained in the valley. There are several areas on the trail where there are large rocks, which can be slippery, and roots across the trail. It's a popular mountain biking trail, so be attentive to riders who may be approaching from behind.
To access the Crazy Pete Road Trail, take Page Mill Road to Skyline Boulevard, and take a right, traveling past a Vista Point
and parking area of Russia Ridge. Shortly after the parking lot, there is a pullout right before Crazy Pete Road, where you can pull over and park your car. The trail follows the road for about .4 of a mile as it descends into Coal Creek Open Space Preserve. There are several private residences along the road, so be on the lookout for cars driving along the road.
Around .3 miles, there is a view of a barn and the surrounding hills that is worth stopping to take a look at. Continuing straight ahead, the trail passes through a gate system and transforms from gravel to dirt as it comes to a fork, where the Coal Road Trail
breaks off to the right while the Crazy Pete Road Trail continues straight ahead. There is an information board here where you can pick up maps of the area and learn about what is going on in the preserve.
The trail descends steeply at this point until it reaches .7 miles, where it begins to level off. There are some obstructed views of the South San Francisco Bay at this point, but no sweeping vistas. Shaded by the oak and madrone forest around you, this is a pleasant run even in the middle of the day with the sun overhead. Due to the elevation difference and location in the mountains, it is also several degrees cooler than the valley below.
At around .9 miles, the Coal Road Trail
breaks off to the right and climbs back to the trailhead, which makes for a nice round-trip run. The Crazy Pete Road Trail continues straight ahead, although more level at this point. A bridge crosses a stream at 1.1 miles, which can be flowing year round. In the spring or after a major rain storm, a waterfall is visible off to the right of the trail while the water continues to make its way through a gully on the left side of the trail.
The trail wraps around the ridge and finally emerges at Alpine Road, which at this point is a dirt road used heavily by mountain bikers, especially on the weekend. From here, you can turn around and make your way back to your car retracing your steps or taking the Coal Road Trail
, whose climb is less steep back to the gate you passed through. For those wanting to continue their adventure, you can run along Alpine Road to the entrance by going to the left, of run to the right and explore the Clouds Rest and Meadow Trail
that wind through another part of the preserve.
Flora & Fauna
The forest that you run through is a oak and madrone forest. It is cool and wet, so various mushrooms, mosses, and ferns can be found along the trail. While there aren't many fields along this trail, animals might be moving through the area in the mornings or evening. Deer, rabbits, coyotes, hawks, turkey vultures, and various types of birds have been seen in the area. Mountain lions have been seen in the area, and signs provide guidance on what to do if you encounter one during your run.