For today’s hike I decided to hike north (actually, northwest) from the Saratoga Gap vista point toward Skyline Ridge. This section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail passes through Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve, Upper Stevens Creek County Park, Long Ridge Open Space Preserve, and Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve incorporating a variety of types of terrain. The Ridge Trail runs generally parallel to Skyline Boulevard and roughly follows old Summit Road, which was a wagon trail used by early settlers prior to the construction of Skyline Blvd. The Ridge Trail segment, as written up in the guide, ends at a parking area just north(west) of Horseshoe Lake. I did not think I would make it all the way to the parking area, but I was aiming for a 14-mile total hike distance and planned to turn around at an easily identifiable trail junction.
The day was a typical warm summer day for the Peninsula area. There were sections of trail that passed by golden hills dotted with oak trees.
The open hills alternated with more forested areas, with mature trees providing welcome shade. In an area near trees like these, a pair of helpful mountain bikers stopped to advise me that there was a “fine specimen” of a rattlesnake near the side of the trail a few tens of yards ahead of me. I proceeded carefully but did not see the snake. However, during the remainder of the hike I was extra careful when walking through open grassy areas. In some places the trail was barely single-track in width, so I tried to make some fairly constant noise so as not to startle any wildlife that might be nearby.
Because the trail follows along Long Ridge and Skyline Ridge, the elevation changes are up-and-down within a reasonable range rather than significant climbs and descents.
There are wonderful views across the open-space areas which, in this part of the Peninsula, seem to extend forever.
Most of this section of the Ridge Trail is on the ocean side of Skyline Blvd. Because of the vantage point afforded by the ridges, in a few places it was possible to see the Pacific Ocean. Or more precisely, the ocean would have been visible had the usual fog bank not been present.
A bit farther along I was startled to see what appeared to be a snake track crossing the trail. It was difficult to tell how much time had passed since the snake crossed, and I decided not to try to investigate any further.
Although the main wildflower season had passed, I did come across a small field filled with these pretty specimens.
As I was approaching the area where I would look for a good place to turn around, nearly 7 miles from the trailhead and passing through a shaded area, I tripped over a mostly submerged rock and basically did a face plant. It was a pretty hard fall. I split my chin open and ended up with bruises on both hands and knees. Lacking a handkerchief or bandana, or even a gauze pad, I pressed a Kleenex against my chin to help stop the bleeding. Then I had to choose what to do next. I actually felt ok so I continued ahead; I was expecting to reach a small side road that led to Skyline Blvd., where I could get help quickly if needed. I even continued a quarter mile or so past the side road to another junction, and then decided I really should return to the trailhead. Since I still felt ok I completed my hike (rather than walking out to Skyline) and drove home. It turned out that it took 7 stitches to close the wound!