Saratoga Small Wonder
Hike at Saratoga Quarry Park
Saratoga Quarry Park features beautiful views, ample picnic space, a labyrinth, and plenty of kid-friendly activities, all within a 2-mile loop.
From the parking lot, keep left to ascend into the park. Signs for the pond will lead hikers to an exercise station where they can practice dips and pull-ups, or get a good stretch for the hike ahead. A seasonal pond is located just beyond the exercise station, where sharp-eyed visitors can spot lizards and frogs hidden among the cattails.
Continue uphill to the picnic tables nestled among the fragrant eucalyptus trees. This is a perfect spot for a snack break overlooking the nearby vineyards. Enjoy the deep red-violet of the Bay Area’s prettiest fall foliage: poison oak. (Look, but of course don’t touch!) Just beyond the picnic tables is a stone maze for children.
Hikers continuing up the trail will pass by the Saratoga To The Skyline Trail. This new trail extension connects to Skyline To The Sea to create a whopping 40-mile trail to the ocean. Continue past this turnoff for another 0.3 mile. This is the steepest section of the hike, but explorers are rewarded with gorgeous views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley.
At the dead end, retrace your steps to the stone maze, then keep left to descend the wooden steps. The large picnic area contains historical artifacts from the park’s early days as well as barbecue pits, picnic platforms, and the giant vine-covered water bucket. Descending to the parking lot you can walk through the old loading tunnel, where freight was once moved out of the quarry. A photo exhibit inside the tunnel details the park’s history.
COFFEE SHOP BONUS: Need a pick-me-up after a day on the trails? Head northeast on Big Basin Way toward downtown Saratoga to visit Big Basin Cafe. This buzzing coffeeshop is a locals' favorite, and the perfect spot for a sweet treat (Heather recommends the chocolate eclairs) and a hot cup of joe.
Saratoga Quarry Park is located at 22000 Congress Springs Rd. in Saratoga. From CA-85, exit onto Saratoga Ave. south. Continue onto Big Basin Way. After passing Hakone Gardens, turn left into the parking lot. Quarry Park is open from dawn until dusk. Leashed dogs are permitted on trails. Big Basin Cafe is located at 14471 Big Basin Way in Saratoga.
Story and photos by Heather Werner, @heath.er.wer.ner
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