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Calero Lake Estates

President's Column

A League or Less : A Hike on Hawk Ridge

The Trail Companion

December 1997/January 1998

A League or Less

Hawk Ridge at Dusk (Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve)

     by Geoffrey Skinner

Though the long drive to Russian Ridge might make this issue's League or Less too much of an expedition if you have just a couple hours to spare, the ridge-top preserve is well worth the time. I drove to the Caltrans vista point on Skyline Boulevard. On summer evenings, the parking area is often crowded with people taking in the terrific view of the Bay Area, but I had no trouble finding a place. I crossed Skyline and entered Russian Ridge preserve, trading the view of the Bay for a blanket of fog spreading inland from the Pacific. I had a windbreaker to ward off the brisk breeze at parking lot, but once I was below the crest, the breeze let up.
      I followed Mindego Ridge Trail west between Russian and Hawk ridges. Ahead of me, Mindego Ridge ran almost level before rising to the forested slopes of Mindego Hill. A heavy cover of yellow star thistle made Mindego Ridge a pale green; fortunately the yellow starthistIc is not as thick on the golden brown slopes of Russian Ridge. The Open Space District is trying to control this noxious exotic, experimenting with a variety of methods including goats, mowing and herbicides. It is too early to tell which method or combination of methods will work best. As a veteran of many painful star thistle jabs, I hope they are successful.
      After walking on Mindego Ridge Trail for about a half mile, I came to the Alder Spring Trail junction and turned left. The springs trickling under the shade of alders, bays and oaks are a welcome sight during the warmer months. This evening, wisps of fog raced overhead. so the shade was not as important. A short distance on the Alder Spring Trail brought me to the Hawk Ridge Trail, which I climbed toward the top of the ridge. Shortly after the junction, I came to a beautiful example of a geological contact: white sedimentary sandstone abut layers of dark basalt from the undersea volcanic eruptions that helped form this hill.

If you are going: Russian Ridge Preserve is located on the west side of Skyline Boulevard, encompassing an area from the Page Mill/Alpine Road intersection to Rapley Ranch Road, 3 miles to the north. The Caltrans Vista Point is located 2 miles north of the Page Mill intersection (approximately 5 miles south of the junction of Highway 84 and Skyline). Cross Skyline just north of the parking area and enter the gate. The preserve is open to bicycles, hikers and equestrians from 8: 00 a.m. to 1/2 hour after sunset. No facilities or water.

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