Sunshine and Skyline

Hike the Bay Area Ridge Trail in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

Hiker taking a photo of sunset at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

Head to Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve for a 4-mile out-and-back hike on the Bay Area Ridge Trail that offers a front-row seat to spectacular sunsets. Park at the Alpine Road parking lot. Follow signs for the Bay Area Ridge Trail as it winds up onto the ridgeline.

Hiker at the sign for Borel Hill at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

On late afternoon and sunset hikes, be mindful of snakes as they soak up the last few rays of sunshine. Gopher and king snakes love to bask on this section of trail.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve near sunset on the Bay Area Ridge Trail

As the ground levels out, beautiful views await: Mindego Hill and the Pacific Ocean, as well as Silicon Valley and the Diablo Range. Continue along the Ridge Trail as it passes Borel Hill. You’ll want to save that summit for sunset.

Hiker on the Bay Area Ridge Trail at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

The Ridge Trail runs parallel to the Skyline Ridge, ensuring the best seat in the house for the golden hour glow. After a mile of stunning scenery, reach a spur trail that leads to a small hilltop bench.

At least 30 minutes before sunset, hikers should turn back toward Borel Hill. At the intersection with Charquin Trail, keep left to climb the short incline to the hilltop. This is one of the highest points in San Mateo County, and from here the view spans nearly the entire Bay Area. On a clear day, hikers can spot the Pacific Ocean, the Diablo Range, Oakland, and San Francisco. Look to the west to watch the sun set over the hills. Remember to also look east for some snapshot-worthy color reflections on the clouds and surrounding mountains.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve at sunset

The park closes 30 minutes after sunset, so be mindful of that in retracing steps back down the Bay Area Ridge Trail to the parking lot.

The parking lot is located on the northwest corner of the Skyline Blvd. (Hwy. 35) and Page Mill / Alpine Rd. intersection. From I-280, exit southwest onto Page Mill Rd. After 8.7 miles, cross Skyline Blvd., then turn right into the parking lot. Bicycles are allowed on this section of trail. The park closes 30 minutes after sunset. No dogs.

Story and photos by Heather Werner, 

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