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Best Rancho San Antonio Trails

Best Rancho San Antonio Trails

Welcome to the great outdoors of Rancho San Antonio, a gem in Silicon Valley’s heart. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or looking to stretch your legs, this park offers trails for every adventurer. 

Imagine wandering through lush greenery, spotting local wildlife, and soaking in breathtaking views. All just a stone’s throw from the city buzz. 

Today, we’re exploring the best Rancho San Antonio trails, from leisurely walks to challenging hikes. Grab your water bottle, lace up your shoes, and let’s hit the trails together. 

Ready to discover which path will be your favorite? Let’s go exploring.

The Rancho San Antonio Preserve History

Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, Rancho San Antonio Preserve is a place where history and nature meet. Before it became its beloved park, this land had a rich story, spanning from native settlements to Spanish ranchos.

Long ago, before the Spanish arrived, the Ohlone people lived on this land. Thanks to the abundant natural resources, they thrived. 

In the 1800s, the area became part of a Spanish land grant called Rancho San Antonio. This vast property covered much of what is now Los Altos and Mountain View.

As time moved on, the land changed hands several times. It was used for farming and grazing, shaping much of the landscape today. 

In the mid-20th century, local citizens and conservationists stepped up as urban sprawl began to encroach. They saw the value of this open space for the community and worked hard to preserve it.

The Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve was established thanks to their efforts. Today, it spans over 4,000 acres. The preserve not only protects the area’s natural beauty but also its wildlife. Deer, coyotes, and even mountain lions roam freely here.

Visitors can also explore Deer Hollow Farm, a living history center located within the park. This farm offers a glimpse into 19th-century farm life, complete with old buildings and farm animals. It’s a favorite spot for families and school groups.

Rancho San Antonio is more than just trails and views. It’s a testament to the area’s history and a commitment to preserving nature for future generations. It invites everyone to step away from their busy lives and into a story that stretches back hundreds of years. 

So, next time you visit, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and deep history beneath your feet.

10 Best Rancho San Antonio Trails

Here are the best Rancho San Antonio Trails that you need to check out:

1. Coyote Trail

The Coyote Trail is a delightful pathway that offers a scenic and moderately challenging experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

To access the Coyote Trail, you’ll start from the main parking area of Rancho San Antonio. 

From there, you can follow the signs directing towards the Permanente Creek Trail. Coyote Trail branches off from this initial path, leading you into the quieter parts of the preserve.

The Coyote Trail is approximately 3.5 miles long, making it a moderate hike that is suitable for most fitness levels. The trail forms a loop, allowing hikers to return to their starting point without retracing their steps.

As you traverse the Coyote Trail, you’ll be surrounded by a mix of native California landscapes. Expect to see a variety of oak woodlands and chaparral. The trail is lined with an array of flora, including California poppies and other wildflowers during the spring.

One of the key attractions of the Coyote Trail is its serene environment, which feels a bit more secluded compared to the busier sections of the park. 

The trail offers beautiful views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Birdwatchers will appreciate the diversity of birdlife, while those interested in photography can capture stunning landscapes and the occasional wildlife sightings.

The Coyote Trail is ideal for hikers looking for a moderately challenging route that is not too strenuous but still offers a good workout. It’s perfect for those who enjoy a peaceful hike away from the more crowded trails. 

The loop is also great for families who want to explore the area’s natural beauty at a leisurely pace.

2. Wildcat Loop Trail

The Wildcat Loop Trail in Rancho San Antonio County Park is a favorite among park visitors who are looking for a blend of ease and natural beauty. This trail is easily accessible and offers a pleasant experience for those looking to explore the outdoors.

Starting your journey on the Wildcat Loop Trail is simple. From the main parking area, head towards the marked trailheads and follow the signs for Wildcat Loop. This trail is well-marked, making it easy to find and follow.

The Wildcat Loop Trail stretches about 3.3 miles, forming a loop that allows hikers to return to where they began without retracing steps. It’s designed to be moderately easy, making it accessible to a wide range of fitness levels.

As you walk along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by a lush tapestry of coastal scrub and mixed woodlands. You’ll see a variety of trees, including oaks and bays. Depending on the season, you might catch the vibrant hues of wildflowers dotting the landscape.

One of the highlights of the Wildcat Loop Trail is the stunning views it offers. As you reach higher elevations, you’ll get panoramic views of the Santa Clara Valley. It’s also not uncommon to spot wildlife, such as deer, rabbits, and various bird species, adding to the trail’s charm.

This trail is ideal for hikers who want a moderately easy hike that still offers a sense of adventure. It’s perfect for families, amateur photographers, and anyone who wants to enjoy a morning or afternoon immersed in nature without venturing too far into rugged terrain.

3. Upper High Meadow Trail

The Upper High Meadow Trail is a scenic route that offers breathtaking views and a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It is perfect for getting a good workout in nature.

Finding the Upper High Meadow Trail is straightforward. Follow the signs leading towards the High Meadow Trail from the main parking area. Continue along this path until you reach the split that directs you onto the Upper High Meadow Trail. The trailhead is clearly marked, so you won’t miss it.

The Upper High Meadow Trail is approximately 1.5 miles long. It connects with other trails, so you can easily extend your hike if you’re in the mood for a longer trek. This trail includes some elevation gain, making it moderately challenging.

As you ascend along the trail, you’ll notice a change in the landscape. The area is predominantly covered with grasslands and scattered oak trees. 

In the spring, the meadows are often dotted with wildflowers, creating a colorful tapestry that enhances the area’s natural beauty.

The Upper High Meadow Trail’s main attraction is its spectacular panoramic views. From various points along the trail, you can look out over Silicon Valley and the surrounding hills. These vistas are particularly stunning at sunset when the sky lights up in shades of orange and pink.

This trail is ideal for hikers looking for a bit of a challenge without embarking on a strenuous journey. It’s great for nature lovers who appreciate open landscapes and expansive views. 

Photographers will also find plenty of opportunities to capture the region’s unique beauty.

4. PG&E Trail

The PG&E Trail is well-known for its rigorous climb and the rewarding views it offers. This trail is a favorite among fitness enthusiasts and those who enjoy a challenging hike.

Clear signage guides you to the PG&E Trail, which begins from Rancho San Antonio’s main parking lot. It begins relatively flat but soon ascends, providing a good workout as you climb higher.

Stretching over 3.7 miles one way, the trail offers a solid hike of about 7.4 miles round trip. The path takes you through various landscapes, starting with lush lower woodlands that transition to chaparral as you ascend. This diversity allows you to experience different aspects of the park’s natural beauty in one hike.

Along the way, you’re treated to stunning vistas of Silicon Valley. As the trail climbs, the views open up, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the sprawling city below. These lookout points are perfect for a quick rest or a photo opportunity.

The PG&E Trail is best suited for those looking for a more strenuous outdoor activity. It’s popular with joggers and hikers who appreciate a good incline. The trail is also well-loved by nature watchers, as the varying elevations bring about different habitats and wildlife.

In summary, the PG&E Trail offers a vigorous hike with plenty of visual rewards. It’s the perfect choice for anyone wanting to combine a physical challenge with the serene beauty of Rancho San Antonio’s landscapes. 

5. Black Mountain Trail

The Black Mountain Trail is a direct route to one of the area’s highest peaks. 

To find the trail, head to the main parking area and follow signs for the PG&E Trail. The Black Mountain Trail branches off from here, leading you to the summit. This clear path ensures you’re on the right track from the start.

Spanning about 4.8 miles one way, this trail takes you on a steady ascent to the top of Black Mountain. As you hike, you’ll pass through a mix of environments, from dense oak woodlands to open chaparral. 

This variety not only keeps the journey interesting but also showcases the rich biodiversity of the preserve.

Reaching the summit is the ultimate reward. From the top, you get stunning views over Silicon Valley and the surrounding mountains. The expansive vista is a breathtaking sight and a perfect spot for a rest and some photos.

The Black Mountain Trail is best suited for those who enjoy a challenging hike. It’s favored by hikers who want to test their endurance and by nature lovers drawn to the diverse ecosystems along the route. 

The trail is also great for bird watchers and photographers, thanks to the wildlife and scenic landscapes.

6. Deer Hollow Farm Trail

Deer Hollow Farm Trail is a delightful escape within Rancho San Antonio. It’s perfect for families and those looking for a gentle walk through nature.

You can start your journey to Deer Hollow Farm from the main parking area of the park. The trail is well-signed, leading you directly to the farm. It’s an easy, mostly flat path that makes it accessible for all ages and fitness levels. 

The trail itself is just about a mile long one way. It’s a short and sweet outing that’s manageable even for young children or those preferring a less strenuous activity. 

As you walk, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and a variety of trees, creating a serene backdrop for your stroll.

The highlight of this trail is Deer Hollow Farm, a working farm that offers a glimpse into agricultural life. The farm is home to various animals, including cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep, which are always a hit with the kids. 

This trail is ideal for a family day out or anyone who enjoys a relaxing walk with much to see and learn.

7. Rogue Valley Trail

The Rogue Valley Trail is a peaceful, less-traveled path ideal for those seeking a quiet escape into nature.

To reach the Rogue Valley Trail, start from the main parking area and follow the signs pointing towards the trailhead. This trail is easy to access and provides a straightforward route for all visitors.

The trail itself stretches approximately 2.5 miles one way, meandering through a serene valley floor. As you walk, you’ll be enveloped by a rich canopy of trees, including oaks and bays.

The trail is mostly flat, making it accessible for walkers of all skill levels, including families with children.

Along the way, you’ll enjoy the calmness and tranquillity of the surrounding woodlands. The trail has lush vegetation and the soothing sounds of nature.

The Rogue Valley Trail appeals for those looking for a less strenuous outdoor activity. It’s great for bird watchers, nature photographers, and anyone who appreciates the quiet beauty of a woodland setting.

8. Lower Meadow Trail

The Lower Meadow Trail is a delightful path that offers an easy, scenic stroll perfect for families and casual hikers.

To find it, head to the main parking area and follow the signs leading towards the meadow areas. This trail is easily accessible and well-marked, ensuring a hassle-free start to your exploration.

This relatively short trail, about 1 mile in length, loops around the lower meadow section of the park. It’s flat and well-maintained, making it suitable for strollers and those preferring a gentle walk.

As you traverse it, you’ll be surrounded by a vibrant display of wildflowers during the spring and early summer months. These create a tapestry of color that enhances the meadow’s natural beauty. 

The Lower Meadow Trail’s key attraction is its accessibility and peaceful environment. It’s ideal for a quick nature retreat, educational outings with children, or a leisurely walk with friends. 

The open spaces and scenic views also make it a popular spot for picnics and leisurely afternoons.

9. Ohlone Village Loop

This trail offers a glimpse into the past, showcasing what life was like for the Ohlone people who once inhabited the area.

Starting your adventure on the Ohlone Village Loop is straightforward. From the main parking lot, follow the signage that directs hikers towards the trail.

The trail is moderate in length, usually about 1 to 1.5 miles, and is relatively flat with a few gentle inclines. It’s perfect for hikers of all skill levels, including families with children who are interested in both nature and history.

As you walk the Ohlone Village Loop, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a diverse range of vegetation. Along the trail, informative signs provide insights into the methods and practices of the Ohlone. This includes their use of native plants for food, medicine, and shelter.

A key attraction of this trail is the reconstructed Ohlone village site that it leads to. This area features replicas of traditional Ohlone structures.

The Ohlone Village Loop is an excellent choice for school groups or anyone interested in California’s cultural history. 

10. Stephen E Arbors Loop

The Stephen E. Arbors Loop is a charming trail within Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve. It’s known for its scenic beauty and ease of access.

The trailhead starts from the main parking area. Just follow the clear signs to Stephen E. Arbors Loop. This makes it easy to find and start your walk.

This loop is relatively short, about 2 miles in total. It’s mostly flat, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll or a family outing.

As you walk, you’ll enjoy a variety of trees and plants that line the path, creating a tranquil and shaded environment. This natural canopy provides a cool and pleasant atmosphere, especially during warmer days.

The Stephen E. Arbors Loop is great for those who want a quick escape into nature without a strenuous workout. It’s ideal for bird watchers, nature lovers, or anyone looking to unwind amidst the beauty of lush vegetation.

In short, if you’re looking for a peaceful, easy trail to relax and enjoy the outdoors, the Stephen E. Arbors Loop is a perfect choice. Its simplicity and beauty make it a favorite for visitors of all ages.

Read also: Best Horse for Riding Trails

Regulations at Rancho San Antonio Trails (Trail Safety and Etiquette)

Visiting Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve is a delightful experience. You, therefore, have to adhere to the park’s regulations to help ensure it remains a safe and enjoyable place for everyone. 

Here are some key regulations to keep in mind when visiting the trails at Rancho San Antonio:

Trail use. The trails are open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians, and specific trails are designated for each activity. Check signage and stick to trails suited to your chosen activity.

Pets. Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the park, except for service animals. This rule helps protect the local wildlife and ensures a safer environment for all visitors.

Wildlife. Feeding or disturbing wildlife is strictly prohibited. The park is home to many species of animals and birds, and interacting with them can harm their natural behaviors and health.

Plant life. Picking or damaging plants is also prohibited. The park’s flora is protected to maintain the ecosystem and natural beauty of the area.

Trash and recycling. Visitors are encouraged to pack out what they pack in. Recycling and trash disposal bins are available, but minimizing waste and removing your trash helps keep the park clean.

Noise. Loud music and excessive noise are discouraged in the park to preserve its natural tranquility. This ensures that all visitors can enjoy the peacefulness of the natural surroundings.

Parking. Parking is available but limited during peak times, such as weekends and holidays. Arriving early or visiting during off-peak hours is recommended to ensure parking availability.

Safety. For your safety, stay on designated trails, observe all signage, and avoid hazardous areas. Also, be sure to bring sufficient water, especially on hot days, and wear appropriate footwear and sun protection.

Rancho San Antonio Trails Permits

At Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve, enjoying the trails does not require individual use permits. However, there are certain situations and activities where obtaining a permit might be necessary:

1. Group activities

If you plan to visit the park with a large group, you may need to obtain a permit in advance. This helps manage the park’s impact and ensures that facilities are available and adequate for everyone.

2. Special events

A permit is usually required for special events like races, charity walks, or large-scale activities. This is to coordinate logistics and safety with park management and minimize disruptions to other park visitors.

3. Commercial use

Any commercial activities, including guided tours, fitness classes, or photography and filming for commercial purposes, require a permit. This ensures that these activities align with park policies and do not interfere with the enjoyment of the park by the general public.

4. Research activities

Researchers wishing to conduct studies within the park must also apply for a permit. This allows the park to oversee and coordinate research efforts to ensure they do not harm the environment or wildlife.

How to Obtain a Permit

To obtain a permit, you should contact the Santa Clara County Parks Department or visit their website. They can provide specific guidelines, application forms, and any associated fees. 

Apply well before your planned activity to ensure you receive the necessary approvals in time.


Is Rancho San Antonio free?

Yes, Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve is free to the public. There are no entrance fees for visitors.

What time does Rancho San Antonio open?

Rancho San Antonio opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. The specific opening times can vary slightly throughout the year based on the seasonal changes in sunrise and sunset times.


As we wrap up our journey through the best trails of Rancho San Antonio, it’s clear that this park offers something special for everyone.

Whether you’re climbing the challenging slopes or enjoying a leisurely stroll, each trail invites you into the heart of nature. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your spirit of adventure, and come see these paths for yourself. 

Every trail tells a story, and perhaps it’s time you started writing your own here at Rancho San Antonio. Happy hiking, and may your explorations be as rewarding as the views.

Picture of Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq, a seasoned veterinarian with a DVM from ARID University and an MPhil in Animal Nutrition from UVAS, specializes in equine health. His deep passion for horse nutrition and well-being drives his work, offering invaluable advice for horse owners. Dr. Tariq's expertise ensures horses lead vibrant, healthy lives.
You can read my full bio here

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Best Rancho San Antonio Trails