Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve,
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District,
Santa Clara County
6 mile out and back through the Duveneck Windmill area.
Distance, cateogy, and difficulty:
This 6 mile out and back hike is easy, with about 1000 feet in elevation change. Trailhead elevation is just over 400 feet, and from there you have no choice but to climb to at least 1100 feet. If you're ambitious you can ascend all the way to Black Mountain, elevation 2800 feet. Easier hikes descend to about 400 feet at the preserve's eastern section, but you'll have to climb back to Rhus Ridge Trail before you can drop down to the trailhead.
Dirt trails and fire roads.
Nice year round but extra pretty in early spring.
From Interstate 280 in Santa Clara County, exit #16 El Monte/Moody Road and drive west on El Monte. Go straight through the stoplight, pass Foothill College, and at the stop sign, turn left onto Moody Road. Continue on Moody (at the next junction bear left to stay on Moody) and turn left onto Rhus Ridge Road (it's about 1 mile from 280). Drive about 0.2 mile on this narrow road, then turn right into the parking lot. The main entrance to Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve is through Rancho San Antonio County Park: exit Interstate 280 at Foothill Boulevard. Make the first right onto Cristo Rey Drive, then turn drive about 1 mile, and turn left into the parking lot.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
There are no facilities in the immediate area -- gas, stores, restaurants, and pay phones a few miles to the north or south off 280.
The Duveneck Windmill Trailhead has parking for about 10 cars (if everyone parks accordingly); no parking on Rhus Ridge Road. No entrance or parking fees. No toilet facilities or drinking water. No designated handicapped parking, and trails are poorly suited to wheelchairs. Maps available at information signboard. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead, but Santa Clara County's VTA buses #23 and 52 service Foothill College, about 1 mile from the Duveneck Windmill trailhead: visit the Transit Info website for details. At the main trailhead, there is no entrance fee, lots of parking (fills up on weekends), restrooms and maps.
Most trails are designated hiking and equestrian only. A few are open to hikers and cyclists only. There are a handful of hiking only trails. Dogs are not permitted.
The Official Story:
MROSD's Rancho page.
MROSD field office 650-691-1200
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from MROSD (download the Rancho San Antonio pdf).
Peninsula Tales and Trails, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has an overview of the preserve, descriptions of hikes, and simple maps.
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a Rancho hike.
The Trail Center's Trail Map of the Southern Peninsula includes Rancho San Antonio and surrounding preserves.
Tom Taber's The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book has a map and preserve description (order this book from Amazon.com).
Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, has a simple map and trail descriptions (order this book from Amazon.com).
View 33 photos from the featured hike.
Windmill Trailhead is the back door
into Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. If you've ever been
to Rancho San Antonio (especially on a weekend) you've probably noticed
that it gets really crowded. It certainly must be the most heavily used
of MROSD's preserves. Sometimes it feels like Central Park on a hot
summer day. Thankfully, although I am a dog lover, the preserve does
not permit entry to canines. I think if dogs were permitted here the preserve
would become a free-for-all. Rancho San Antonio's trump card is its size. This
is a large preserve with lots of trails and loop possibilities. By
hiking from the Duveneck Windmill Trailhead you can partially escape the
throngs and experience the preserve in a whole new light, but be warned:
no matter how you enter Ranch San Antonio, it's not a good choice if you're
searching for solitude. Consider
using the preserve for two things: exercise, and activities for babies
and rather sedimentary folks who like nature.
Total distance: 6 miles