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Windy Hill

Windy Hill is one of the few rideable MROSD preserves that I don't ride often. While it has many interesting trails, only a single fireroad is open to bikes.

Park: Windy Hill OSP
Date: Multiple
Distance: 2.70 miles
Ride Time: 0:30
Total Ascent: 1,260 feet
Map: Detailed trail map
Overall Rating: 1

Windy Hill has basically one trail that is open for biking: Spring Ridge Trail. I usually start at the junction of Alpine Road and Willowbrook Drive and entering the WH06 gate but one could also park in the main lot off of Portola Road. The inital trail from WH06 is a wide single track that quickly zigzags its way up the hill through oaks and grass, bypassing a private driveway that runs up the center. This is pleasant enough ride and I have spotted good size turkeys just off the trail. This quickly links into Spring Ridge Trail. You can go downhill a short ways to another entrance, but you should turn left and head up the hill. The route turns into well used fire road for the entire ride up. The ride alternates between steep parts and very steep parts. The average grade is about 11% with several short sections up to 25% grade. Spring Ridge is the first 2.7 miles of the elevation profile (to the first small peak). Spring Ridge gets you to the top pretty quickly, but you pay for it. At the top, take a left right at the fence for a short dirt section that leads to a small parking lot and picnic area and throws you out onto Highway 35. There are lots of other trails here, but they are closed to bikes. Now you have seen all there is to legally see in Windy Hill.

While the climb was taxing, this wasn't really enough for a "real ride", so you have to do more. Riding southeast on Highway 35 (Skyline) for about 2.3 miles (watch for high speed traffic as there isn't much shoulder to ride on) brings you to Rapley Ranch Road (across the street from the Fogerty Winery). Turning right leads to northern end of Russian Ridge. You can make your own route through Russian Ridge, with a straight shot on Ridge Trail or a longer route like Ridge, Hawk, Mindego, Ancient Oaks, up to Borel Hill, and north on Ridge to the RR01 gate and Highway 35.

There are several ways back. You can re-trace your steps to Windy Hill, but the downhill could be less than enjoyable because it is a popular hiking trail and there isn't really much in the way of interesting riding. A better route is to head down Clouds Rest and ride Meadow Trail to Alpine Road. An even better  route is head down Page Mill Road to the top of "dirt Alpine Road" and ride the length of the trail back to "paved Alpine" and return to your car. Of course, you could also throw in some of the trails in Skyline Ridge or Monte Bello OSPs before hitting Alpine if you have lots of energy.

Windy Hill by itself was pretty disappointing. The only challenge is the climbing. It didn't seem worthwhile to ride down. However, it is a pretty quick route to the top of the mountain and combining it with some of the other nearby trails allows a more interesting loop than a simple out-and-back ride.

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