- Location: Stanford University
- Date: 9 December 2018
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- Info: Stanford Dish Area info, AllTrails, The Dish on Science
- Giant satellite dishes: At least three
There’s a little more sky atop the ridge south of Stanford University.
The low, rolling hills have few oak trees compared to the open fields of short grass. This is a great site for the 150-foot radio telescope antenna, commonly called the Dish.
The Dish is visible for miles around. I’d first seen it from highway 280, half a mile to the south, driving back from San Francisco. The sight made my to-do hiking list when I learned the grounds also had an easy pedestrian loop.
This late in the year meant the dish trail was my first sunset hike in California, even though I arrived around 3pm and left two hours later. The timing worked out well for dramatic lighting.
The trail itself is more of a paved, well-kept road, wide enough for trucks and smooth enough for baby strollers. I saw several of each, plus many people walking and jogging around the 3.6-mile loop. The hills added a few stretches of up and down which kept me warm in the mid-50s weather.
There was more to see than the Dish, including Stanford’s Hoover Tower and views of the surrounding metro area, what looked like a hawk, and a ground squirrel a Stanford-savvy coworker of mine later described as a “nuisance.” I also saw at least two other smaller dishes pointed in different directions, as if the sky was too big to capture in one go. Which it was.
I was surprised how close I could get to the Dish, which is fenced off — and even more impressive up close.
The area has two parking lots that I know of. I started at the unimaginatively-named and troubled Stanford lot, which put the dish about half-way through the 3.6-mile walk. The sun disappeared as I completed the hike, leaving the clouds with golden linings.
The Dish was great. But the most impressive sight was all around.
For next time
- If you go in the summer, prepare for heat. There’s no shade on the paved road/trail.
- I wonder how often the dish moves, and if I could get its motion on video.
- Walking shoes are a must. Hiking boots, not so much.