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Arastadero Preserve

Arastadero Preserve

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March 14th, 2004

3.5 miles
435 vertical feet
Total Time: 2:03

Rating: 5/10

Directions: Take 280 south to Page Mill. Turn right off the exit onto Page Mill. Turn right at the first street, which is Arastadero. Be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians. Just up the road, turn right into the large dirt parking lot. Pick up a map at the trailhead.   View Driving Map

The parking lot was nearly full as we pulled into the lot around noon. It was quite warm, as spring had arrived early, disguised as summer. I had mountain biked in Arastadero Preserve a couple times before, but in winter when it was muddy and brown. Instead, the trails were now dry and the hills were green. While you should be on the lookout for mountain bikers, they were surprisingly not much of a problem. The trails are wide enough that hikers and cyclists can coexist.

The first 0.14 miles from the parking lot follows Arastadero Road. After crossing the road (traffic does not stop, so be careful!), the trail crosses a small foot bridge and then settles into a wide dirt road. The first half mile from the parking lot is fairly uninteresting.

After a half mile, we reached Arastadero Lake. You can fish in the lake, and we saw 3 anglers on the far side of the lake. However, there's not much usable shoreline here, and it's not the prettiest lake you'll see. After pausing briefly at the lake, we contained straight on the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. As we steadily climbed the short hill, we were passed by an equestrian, the only one we'd see on the trail. Now the views begin to open up, with large oak trees and rolling green hills.

Oak tree

At the top of the hill, we passed the intersection for the Meadowlark Trail and instead continued on the mail trail. Shortly, we could see cyclists and cars on Arastadero Road in front of us. We turned left onto the unsigned Ohlone Trail, left again onto the Meadowlark Trail, and then quickly right to continue on the Meadlowlark Trail. If I had to do it again, I probably would have made the left turn onto the Meadowlark Trail from the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail. It would have avoided getting close to Arastadero Road and the traffic noise.

We now followed the Meadlowlark Trail as it skirted the edge of the forest. The sun beat down on us as we hoped the trail would lead into shade. Unfortunately, it did not, staying just outside the edge of the forest at every twist and turn. The hills were dotted here and there with poppies, but there were no spectacular wildflower displays at this time. The trail climbs gradually. Eventually we spotted a large eucalyptus tree at the top of the hill. There we stopped for a break.

Under the ample shade of the eucalyptus tree, we enjoyed the view. Directly below us, two blue birds flitted about on the skeleton of a now leafless tree. Below that, the rolling green hills spread out to the east. And beyond that, in the distance, is San Francisco Bay.

View from the hillside

While we enjoyed the shade, a couple of mountain bikers huffed and puffed their way up the hill, the second one having to get off. We would later see them heading down the hill via the Acorn Trail.

We continued on the Meadowlark Trail, then turned left onto the Woodrat Trail. This singletrack trail has a series of gentle switchbacks which leads down into blessed shade of forest. Unfortunately, this nice section of trail is less than half a mile. At the bottom is the wide Arastadero Creek Trail, which is really a gravel road. The road supposedly parallels Arastadero Creek, but the creek wasn't much in evidence. We also could not see Sobey Pond anywhere. I don't know if this was because it was hidden from view, or just dried up.

We followed the trail all the way back to Arastadero Lake. There's really nothing to see along this stretch of trail. If i had to do it again, I would probably turn left onto the Acorn Trail and return that way. After reaching the lake, we retraced our original steps, taking the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail back to the road crossing, and then the trail back to the parking lot.

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