If you live in, or are visiting, the SF Bay Area and would like an idea of where to hike when the rains stop, I have the hike for you. Rancho Canada del Oro in Santa Clara County is a hidden gem. It’s less than 30 minutes from the South Bay, yet not many people know of it. It has a good size parking lot, a restroom (not always open), outhouse, and 12 miles of trails. Best of all, the views of the rolling hills and oak trees are quintessential California (i.e., beautiful).
When to go:
My husband and I hiked there in February after a long period of January rains. The hills were green and lush. And if you’re wondering where to see wildflowers in California, in a month or two this should be a good bet. But beware of hiking there in the summer. It gets very hot and there is no shade. Go early and bring plenty of water.
Sharing the Trails
The only annoyance was that they have marked a couple of trails as one-way only. I recommend ignoring these signs. The trails are wide and there’s hardly anyone on them. Even if there were crowds of people I think we can all figure out how to pass each other without the county government stepping in on our hiking trails.
We only passed four other hikers in an hour – granted, we were doing a long steep hike – and it was great having the place to ourselves. People on trail bikes passed us a few times (there was plenty of room), but they were always considerate, and we stepped aside to let them pass.
The Sights and Sounds
The Baldy Ryan Canyon Creek (see map) was actually full and running. Usually it’s barely a trickle. It was nice to hear it gurgle while birds sang in the trees. We saw hawks and turkey vultures overhead, and at one point even spied a Gray Fox.
It was a terrific 7 mile loop (per our GPS watches) hiking along the Longwall Canyon, up the Needlegrass, and onto the Bald Peaks Trail, then finishing back on the Longwall Canyon Trail.
I hope I’ve inspired you to try a little-known hiking trail in the SF bay area! For more information, please visit this website.