Part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, this preserve covers 2,035 acres along the upper west side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Its 13 miles of mostly multiuse trails traverse mixed evergreen forests, grasslands, and oak woodlands and offer outstanding views. Established in 1978, the park’s former ranch and farmlands have faded to remnants of dirt roads, fence sections, and an old apple orchard. For a moderate 4.7-mile loop from the Grizzly Flat trailhead, take the trail west downhill toward Peters Creek. Turn left at the junction and follow the creek through shaded woods and sunny grasslands along a remnant of old Summit Road. Enjoy the cooling effects of the creek’s moss-covered boulders and large ferns, pause at the pond, and then head uphill, winding through the forest to the namesake ridge. Turn right on Long Ridge Road trail and catch a breeze, along with striking vistas. In the grassland through midsummer, look for yellow mariposa lily, ruby chalice clarkia, and purple elegant brodiaea. Pause at Wallace Stegner’s memorial bench for views of the Pescadero Creek drainage, Butano Ridge, and Big Basin, and south to Castle Rock and (on a clear day) the Santa Lucia Mountains near Monterey. To return, head right (downhill) through the forest. At Peters Creek, turn left and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Getting There: Parking for Long Ridge Open Space Preserve is on Skyline Boulevard, 3.6 miles north of its inter-section with Highway 9, and 3.3 miles south of Page Mill Road. More info: openspace.org.