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Russian Ridge

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is located at the intersection of Page Mill Road, Alpine Road, and Skyline (Highway 35). It extends north to Rapley Road. Russian Ridge is the northernmost openspace preserve in a set of preserves including Coal Creek, Montebello, Skyline Ridge, Long Ridge and Saratoga Gap (from north to south).

Park: Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
Date: Multiple Rides
Distance: 8.0 - 12.5 miles
Ride Time: Various
Total Ascent: 1400 - 2600 feet
Maps: Detailed official trail map
Overall Rating: 4

 

As with most of our rides, there are many combinations of trails. We usually start at the parking lot on the northwest corner of the the intersection. This is one of the few trailheads with a head (an outhouse). Start riding up the incline right there on part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Keep heading up the hill until you get to the first fire road intersection (in the flat area). Turn left onto Ancient Oaks and enjoy a brief coast along the road while you catch your breadth. As the hillside on your right side disappears and you can see a little bit of the paved road (that is Alpine Road) on the left, take the sharp left turn on a single track up the hill. This part of Ancient Oaks continues a gentle climb up and along the hillside passing through grasses and into an oak forest. Continue straight ahead at the first junction. There are quite a few roots in this area and it is much easier to have some speed to go over them. After a bit more open grassland, the trail goes through a surpringly lush oak forest and then deposits you on another fire road, Mindego Trail. Go straight/right at this junction.

At the next junction, continue straight onto Alder Spring rather than going up the hill on Mindego. After a short ride, take Hawk, a singletrack heading up the hill, on the right side. Enjoy the westward view and look for birds while you climb up the hill. Once to the top of the hill, continue straight across the fire road onto another section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. This trail gives you a nice eastward view as it winds around the other side of the hills. You will pass a wooden platform with benches which is a nice place to take a break if you are tired.

Continuing northward, you will cross a small fire road just past the platform. This begins a fast and fun singletrack descent on Ridge Trail. (Beware of berms that are sometimes added here...supposedly for runoff but I think they have been added to control people's speed. These berms can sneak up on you and toss you off your bike if you aren't looking.) There are rocks, switch backs, and long grass which can make it difficult to see the trail at some times of the year. This is not very steep, but there is enought decline to get you going pretty fast without pedalling. The end of this fun singletrack takes you to another fire road and a short ride to Rapley Road. This is a good spot to stop and check for ticks, especially if the grass is long.

Now you have to make a decision. You can turn around and retrace your path up the hill to the junction with the top of Hawk (this is actually a nice ride). You could retrace down Hawk but it is better to see something new and continue on Ridge to the RR01 gate. Start up the hill being ready to make a decision. You can bear right on the singletrack that takes you around the side of the hill to Borel Hill or you can ride up the shorter but steeper fire road to the hilltop. Either way, this is a nice place to stop for a picture since there is a nice 360 degree view.

Instead of retracing your steps, you could ride out Rapley Road to Skyline and head south (right). The first street intersection on the left is Crazy Pete's Road (it is signed and about a mile and a half from Rapley Road). Go down this road and through the gate into Coal Creek OSP. Head downhill on Valley View. After reaching the bottom there is a very short climb and a small gate that puts you on the old Alpine Road (not paved or maintained and no cars, so it is more like a fire road). Watch out for poison oak on the short climb.

Ride up Alpine Road. You can turn onto Clouds Rest or Meadow to climb back up to Skyline and the RR01 gate into Russian Ridge OSP. You can also continue straight ahead, getting to Page Mill Road (page with traffic). You can follow Page Mill Road to the right to get back to the parking lot (watch for car traffic on this narrow and windy section of road).

If you are still full of energy, enter the Montebello OSP at the gate across Page Mill Road from the old Alpine Road gate. Ride down White Oak, another fun and fast singletrack to the bottom. Take a right on Skid Road and climb back out to Skyline. Across Skyline you enter the Skyline Ridge OSP. Go past Horseshoe Lake (a pond) and head up the hill. Keep going up, no matter how hot it gets (there is not shade on this climb). After a too brief downhill, go around Alpine Pond and out the gate and you are back at your car.

As a nice alternative, when you get to the bottom of Ancient Oak, you can turn left onto Mindego. This trail has some ups and downs (mostly descending) out to the old Mindego Ranch Road. You can take this out (right) to the recently acquired Mindego Ranch. This area is still closed, but I hope they will open it soon. It looks like they have removed the old ranch house, so it looks like it is almost ready. This trail seems to be less frequently used.

A nice alternative ordering of the trails is to ride Ridge from the parking lot to Borel Hill, then bear left to continue on Ridge all the way to Rapley Road. Turn around can climb up the single track to the point where it meets the fire road. Then, take Hawk down to Mindego and ride the length of it out to the the old ranch. Retrace your path back to Ancient Oak and follow it back to Ridge and the parking lot where you started.

This can be a very nice ride. This park is a special treat in the spring when the grass is green and the wildflowers are in bloom. It can also be very nice on summer evenings when the golden rays of the setting sun reflects off of the eastern hillsides as the fog sneaks in from the ocean to the west. There are also a variety of animals here if you look for them.

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