Open Space Preserve,
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District,
San Mateo County
2.7 mile out and back through marshlands, on the edge of East Palo Alto.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 2.7 mile out and back hike is extremely easy, on a perfectly flat trail.
Wide dirt trail.
Under an hour.
From US 101 in San Mateo County, exit #403 University Avenue. Drive northeast on University about 1 mile, then turn right on Bay Road (look for a post office on the right corner). Drive about 0.6 mile on Bay Road, through the preserve gate, then continue 0.2 mile to the trailhead on the left side of the road.
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:
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants along University. No camping.
Parking for 12 vehicles in a dirt lot (also note the last 0.2 mile of Bay Road is dirt). One designated handicapped parking spot, and the trail, although accessible to wheelchairs, is somewhat overgrown in places. No parking or entrance fees. Maps at the information signboard. No drinking water. One portable toilet on the side of Bay Road. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead, and the walk from the nearest bus stop is not a safe trip.
No dogs or horses. Preserve is open from dawn to 1/2 hour after dusk.
The Official Story:
MROSD's Ravenswood page
MROSD field office 650-691-1200
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from MROSD (download the 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.
Map from the Bay Trail website
Peninsula Trails, by Jean Rusmore, Frances Spangle, and Betsy Crowder (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and trail descriptions.
Ravenswood in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from this hike.
is perched on the edge of East Palo Alto. On
the way to the trailhead the neighborhood transitions from scrappy mixed
business, to shabby residential, and finally, to downright scary industrial.
I'd like to say that when a visitor reaches the entrance gate all the
trappings of East Palo Alto's run-down neighborhoods fall away, but unfortunately
that's not the case. On my visit there were several abandoned cars right
on the outside of the preserve gate, and once inside the preserve industrial
businesses loom at the western edge of the property. Since I was on my
own, I felt so panicked about this place I made the out-and-back hike
nearly at a run.