Doubleup Russian Ridge

Hike to two scenic summits in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

What’s better than one hilltop summit? Two, of course! Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve packs two scenic hills in one 9-mile (round-trip) challenging hike. Lace up your hiking boots and scale Borel and Mindego Hills for spectacular views stretching all the way from the Diablo Range to the Pacific Ocean.

From the trailhead at the Highway 35/Alpine Road intersection, the Ridge Trail is a gentle ascent to the ridgeline, where hikers can catch stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and Mount Diablo. Note: There can be strong winds on this stretch of trail, which only add to the sense of adventure. (Hold on to your hats!) After 0.7 mile, you can proudly tap the Borel Hill signpost, marking your 2,572-foot summit.

From there, the Bo Gimbal Trail leads you south to the Ancient Oaks and Charquin Trails, a winding, heavily wooded route. Catch your breath as you enjoy 700 feet of relaxing descent through the forest, and keep an eye out for the rust-colored newts who share the trail.

As you emerge from the trees, bear right onto Mindego Hill Trail, a gently sloping, grassy path along acres of scenic cow pasture. After a mile, pass through the cattle gate to begin the real challenge: summiting Mindego Hill. This 400-foot ascent is a steep test of endurance, but well worth the effort when you finally stand atop its summit. At an elevation of 2,143 feet, views of the surrounding mountains against the backdrop of the sea will take your breath away.

The quickest route back to the trailhead is from Mindego Hill Trail to Ancient Oaks, and then a right turn onto the Ridge Trail. These last few miles have some steep uphill sections, but late-day hikers are in for a treat as the golden hour views from this stretch can be fantastic on clear days. Just don’t linger too long because the park closes a half hour after sunset.

The Russian Ridge parking lot is located on the northwest corner of the Skyline Blvd. (Hwy. 35) and Page Mill / Alpine Rd. intersection (across Skyline Blvd. on the right). No dogs.

Story by Poe Casavant. Photos by Kristin Perry

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