Hike by Rob Lehman, originally published in the October 2011 issue of Bay Nature magazine
Los Trancos is one of the smallest preserves in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, but one of the most interesting to visit. With five miles of easy trails split by the San Andreas Fault, this 275-acre park is one of two in California devoted to showcasing landscape features formed by the shifting along the fault. A recreated wooden fence shows the three-foot gap originally left by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Pick up a brochure at the park entrance and follow along on the 1.5-mile San Andreas Fault Trail, where nine stations correspond to brochure notes explaining the earthen benches, sag ponds, landslides, and other interesting landscape features created by movement along the fault.
The San Andreas Trail also features wonderful vistas on a clear day of Mount Umunhum, downtown San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais, and Mount Diablo. The park's hikers-only trails loop through landscapes of open grasslands, shady forests, and wet creekside habitat, where the air is pungent with the scent of bay laurel. Giant canyon and coast live oak, madrone, blue elderberry, big-leaf maple, California coffeeberry, creambush, coyote brush, toyon, and, of course, poison oak flourish there along with hound's-tongue, snakeroot, and giant trillium.
Getting there The preserve entrance is on Page Mill Road, 1.5 miles east of Skyline Boulevard and seven miles west of Interstate 280.