- Location: Ranchero San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve
- Date: 26 May 2018
- Distance: 10 miles
- Info: Midpeninsula Regional, Hiking Project
- Mountain lions: Zero
- Rattlesnakes: Two
- Livestock: Numerous
I thought this would make a quick trip, but I ended up spending the whole afternoon hiking the western part of Ranchero San Antonio.
The tiered parking lots were mostly full half an hour after lunch on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I was lucky to find a spot in shade between the restrooms and trailhead. As part-county park, part-open space preserve, there were no entrance fees, and no visitor center. Just a kiosk with paper maps and numerous mountain lion warnings.
I hiked up to Deer Hollow Farm, a working farm complete with livestock. The place was crowded with families eager to see cows, goats, sheep, pigs, and chickens. But the novelty wore off, so I didn’t stick around.
Some routes overlapped, but eventually I found Upper High Meadow and PG&E trails. The latter doubles as a service road for electrical towers that run across the southern edge of the reserve. Both trails join at a scenic overlook after a steep last 100 yards.
On my way back through the Lower Meadow Trail, I ran across a baby rattlesnake that tried to cross the path. This got a lot of attention from a group of parents with small children walking behind me. Less than 10 minutes later I almost stepped on an adult rattlesnake that somehow didn’t see me. Lesson learned: beware the tall grass.
For next time
- Only 20 minutes from the house, this is a great spot for either a quick getaway or a “quick” long afternoon.
- The lower valley is very family-friendly. But the terrain separates the pedestrians from the hikers west of the farm.
- I underestimated the weather, and almost didn’t bring enough water.
- Upper High Meadow Trail is particularly steep towards the end. Be prepared to climb for the last hundred yards.
- PG&E Trail is shady, wide, and my favorite section of the hike.