Hike by John Kesselring, originally published in the July 2008 issue of Bay Nature magazine
Of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District's 24 preserves, the most popular is Rancho San Antonio, in Los Altos. Despite the heavy human use, it is also one of the best preserves in the district for seeing wildlife. Visitors frequently encounter brush rabbits, quail, wild turkeys, red-tailed hawks, and black-tailed deer. Bobcats and coyotes are also spotted regularly and mountain lions occasionally make an appearance.
In addition to wild animals, there are usually plenty of pigs, goats, and other livestock at Deer Hollow Farm, a working farm operated by the City of Mountain View. The farm also features a garden and orchard, and is a favorite spot for families with young children.
But once you leave the county park and farm behind, you'll experience the wilder side of the park, with 23 miles of trails that cover a variety of terrains and natural habitats and climb up the west side of Black Mountain. A favorite trail combination for wildlife and wildflower viewing includes the Mora, Chamise, and Rogue Valley trails. The Wildcat Loop and Wildcat Canyon trails provide an exhilarating hike through the oak forest opening onto excellent views of the South and East Bays.
Getting there From I-280, take the Foothill Expressway/Grant Road exit, turn south on Foothill, then right on Cristo Rey Drive. Turn left into Rancho San Antonio County Park, and proceed to the end of the paved roadway.