Explore BAO Events
Plan Your Own
The park has pedestrians and mountain bikers that frequent the trails at all hours of the day so you will not be alone. Most of the trails are exposed to the sun and there is very little elevation change. It is a great park for short, one mile and at most four mile loops. This review covers a two mile loop in the preserve to give you an idea of the wildlife and foliage in the park.
The entrance to the park is easy to see off of Arastradero road. The lot has parking for about 25 cars and I have never seen it full. There is a nature center down the path from the parking lot and the restrooms and drinking water are just next door.
Park entrance Parking lot
Path to nature center Restrooms
Head to the end of the parking lot that is in opposite direction to the nature center, where you can connect to the Redtail Loop Trail. Along the way you will pass some native and non-native grasses and flowers. After about a one tenth of a mile, you will cross Arastradero road and begin the Portola Pastures Trail.
Start of the Redtail Loop Trail
Blue-eyed grass (native) Road crossing
Portola Pastures Trail Dipsacus fullonum (the common teasel)
One striking aspect of the preserve is the plentiful Coastal Live Oak trees and savanna grassland covering the hillside. I have heard other visitors to this park have coyote and bobcat sightings as well as Western rattlesnakes. Crossing the bridge takes you to the trees.
Bridge crossing Coastal live oak
Meadow rye grass Coastal Live Oak
After 0.3 miles, the trail turns into Meadowlark Trail, where you may meet other hikers out in the middle of the day or evening (in the summer). Bear right on Juan Bautisa de Anza Trail and then left onto Paseo Del Roble Trail where is a small stream that you need to cross.
Begin Meadowlark Trail
People along trail
Stream and bridge crossing
The Paseo Del Roble Trail takes you for a visit by Arastradero Lake. You can take a little detour on Lake Trail and find a spot at the end of the trail to sit and observe the birds and hear them sing. Birds you may see or hear are California Quail, Western Meadowlark, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk and American Kestrel as well as migrating birds depending on when you visit. At the time of our visit, there were red Ruddy ducks swimming and diving in the lake.
Arastradero Lake Lake Trail
Anagallis arvensis (Scarlet pimpernel)
Coastal Live Oak
Bear left on the Wild Rye Trail where you may encounter mountain bicyclists. While you head gradually downhill, keep a lookout for plants and flowers. For example, Redmaids, that are also called desert rockpurselane, is a low-growing, slightly succulent, winter annual broadleaf native to California. They flower from February through late spring or early summer.
Begin the Wild Rye Trail Mountain bikes
Gradual downhill Redmaids
Claytonia perfoliata (Miner's lettuce) native
You will intersect with the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail again so bear right on this trail to head back to the parking lot. One final crossing leads you across the street and back to the nature center where you can dust your boots and head back to your car.
Road crossing Boot dusting