Skyline Ridge Open Space
44% SINGLETRACK56% FIRE ROAD
Skyline Ridge is not a very big open space preserve, it doesn't have too many trails, and has only a couple of bike-legal singletrack trails. However, due to the connection possibilities it provides with adjacent parks on three sides, it should still be on the short list of any mountain biker who rides the trails in the Peninsula. This particular ride only features a brief extension into the neighboring Long Ridge Open Space.
You'll notice that the route plot of this ride starts from a roadside parking spot near the entrance of Russian Ridge Open Space. This is only because the start time for this particular ride was before the time at which the main parking lot of Skyline Ridge would have been unlocked. If you find yourself in the same situation, this is an acceptable parking option. Otherwise, the main parking lot, which is off Skyline Boulevard just under one mile southeast of the intersection with Page Mill Road, is a better option and it's free.
When you follow this particular ride route, after the very first (but extremely short) stretch of singletrack from the trailhead of Sunny Jim Trail, some of the ride's more uninteresting fire roads and their steep climbs and descents arrive fairly early. Unless what you're looking for is some hill-climb training, then about the first two miles of the ride is good for nothing other than some nice views west to the ridges toward the ocean and east toward Monte Bello Ridge and Stevens Canyon.
Once you get past the high-elevation part of the route, you skirt the admittedly pretty Horseshoe Lake. Tree Farm Trail starts just past that point, initially with a significant climb under tree cover. Right around the point where you might be starting to wonder how much longer the climb will last, a mandatory left turn drops you onto the first wide-dirt-road stretch of Tree Farm Trail.
Along the way, Tree Farm Trail switches to pseudo-singletrack (at what looks like a right-turn, just around the 2.7-mile mark of the ride) but it doesn't last long before it turns back into an uphill dirt road. This particular climb (an extra-steep one) ends at the junction where you turn onto Chestnut Trail. This pretty singletrack meanders initially through some beautiful oak woodlands before it begins to follow Skyline Boulevard (even) more closely as it crosses a number of side roads on its way into the Long Ridge Open Space lands. The southernmost stretches of this trail flow through a very picturesque little valley. The photo set linked on your left does not do justice to this cute trail. For that, you need to see this photo and this one from earlier rides on that trail during the green-grass season.
After your return over Chestnut Trail, this ride follows the roadside stretch of Tree Farm Trail to connect back to Horseshoe Lake. This trail segment is actually a boulevard-width, smooth, gravel path. Although it does give you an up-close peek at the Christmas tree farm along the way, it holds little interest other than that for a bike ride, and I've included it in this ride only for the sake of trail variety, although it does allow you to sample the brief bike-legal singletrack stretch of Horseshoe Loop Trail. Still, a more fun option might be to take the same route over the inner portion of Tree Farm Trail on your way back that you followed in the first half of the ride.
Once you leave Horseshoe Lake behind for the second time, this ride takes you back over the climb and descent through some of the fire roads traversed in the initial part of the ride. If you're not interested in the extra workout, this steep climb followed by an immediate descent is arguably pointless at this stage in the ride, since you've already seen the views offered by those trail segments earlier in the ride, and they offer little else. So, you could instead take to the pavement on Skyline Boulevard and simply follow that road back to your car to save yourself quite a bit of effort and time.
The connection options from Skyline Ridge are extensive. One obvious possibility is to continue as far as you like into Long Ridge Open Space before you turn back along Chestnut Trail at the southern tip of this route. Another easy option that's right at the doorstep of this route is to continue into Russian Ridge. You can also string this together with Coal Creek Open Space across the road by taking Meadow Trail or Clouds Rest Trail to Alpine Road. Another option is Monte Bello Open Space, across the road from Skyline Ridge, via Skid Road Trail. Last but not least, you can also extend your ride by taking Grizzly Flat Trail, from near the southern tip of this route, and then connecting via Canyon Trail to (initially Table Mountain Trail, and then to) Charcoal Grade for a lung-busting climb back up. You could spend weeks riding through these few parks without exhausting all the possibilities!
© Ergin Guney
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