River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
One-Way only during COVID-19 for social distancing
Need to Know
Park at either the Orchard Glen or Interpretive Center. Bathrooms are provided only at these locations.
Mostly dirt singletrack, sometimes rocky. Fairly narrow almost the entire way.
The Los Trancos Trail starts near the Interpretive Center, by crossing through a small meadow to the forrest. You may see deer and wild turkeys running through the meadow. Once you reach the forrest, the trail steeply climbs for the first mile on a narrow singletrack path before leveling out on top of a ridge. During this climb, you're treated to sporadic views of the San Francisco Bay.
Once you reach the top and cross the fire road, the trail leaves the dense forrest and opens into more open woodlands and chaparral. The trail follows steep westward facing slopes for several miles, allowing views of the Santa Cruz mountains, along with some large Palo Alto mansions in the distance. The trees are covered with carpets of hanging lichen in places. This section of the trail is a nice relaxing section, with just small variations in elevation, to give you a rest from the first mile's climb, and before the big climb in the later half of the trail.
As the trail turns south, you begin following the trail's namesake, Los Trancos Creek. The trail drops you gently into a steep ravine that follows the creek, and takes you across the first of 20 wooden bridges. As you follow the creek, there are small waterfalls along the way. The forrest here is dense again, and you may see many types of mushrooms growing on the trees and the forrest floor. Near the end of this section, there's a small bench overlooking one of the waterfalls.
The climb out of the forrest and the creek's ravine is a steep climb that takes you back to open woodlands, meadows, and chaparral. At the very top, a spectacular view awaits you, where you can see Mission Peak, Mount Diablo, Stanford, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.
After you leave the top, you begin the steepest part of the trail, but relax, it's all downhill. You'll drop over 1,000 feet in the last 3 miles. You'll get an encore of all of the different habitats and features you passed through on the way to the top, including creeks, wooden bridges, dense forrest, and chaparral habitat. Some of the groves have the pleasant smell of Bay Laurel trees.
The trail ends at a fire road, which you can walk along back to the parking lot at the Interpretive center.
Flora & Fauna
Deer, turkeys, mushrooms, manzanita, madrones, bay laurel
Shared By: Edward Ford