Palo Alto’s Pearson-Arastradero Preserve

Ten minutes from downtown Palo Alto is the 609-acre Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, a beautiful blend of open savannah grasslands and broadleaf evergreen copses. With over ten miles of trails, some offering views of the San Francisco Bay, this sanctuary is a favorite among local cyclists, joggers and hikers. It protects the majority of the Arastradero Creek watershed, a 2.4 mile long seasonal stream originating in the Palo Alto foothills.

Owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto since the 1970s, the 609-acre Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is open daily from 8am to sunset and offers scenic views of the Bay as well as easy to moderate hiking and cycling trails. A wonderful place to walk your dogs, it is required that they remain on-leash at all times. Equestrian enthusiasts also enjoy trail rides through the rolling hills and fishermen of ages can cast their lines from shore into the lake, which is a short 20 minute walk from the parking lot located at 1530 Arastradero Road.

Although there are 10.25 miles of trails, 3.6 miles of those are considered seasonal and are closed at the trailheads during inclement weather to help minimize erosion and other damage. Normally, they are reopened after two days of dry weather. Click here to find out the status of these portions of the paths before you embark on your outdoor adventure. Trails begin at an elevation of 225 feet and climb as high as 775 feet. Be sure to stay on marked trails at all times.

A variety of wildlife calls the preserve home including deer, bobcats, coyotes, rabbits as well as the occasional mountain lion. A multitude of birds including California quail and redwing blackbirds flock to this area as well. Bring binoculars to get close up views of both the native wildlife and the Bay views.

In 2004, Arastradero Preserve was named after former city council member Enid Pearson who was instrumental in passing a 1965 measure prohibiting the city from selling any parkland without express public approval. In the heart of the preserve is a 13-acre parcel expressly set aside from any type of development.

There are three gates (labeled A, B, and C) into the preserve, though public parking is available only at Gate A on the North side. The park is also accessible from a pedestrian footpath that leads out the residential area off of Paseo del Roble Street. Trails include Acorn, Arastradeo Creek (one of the longer hikes in the preserve), Bay Laurel, Bowl Loop, Juan Bautista de Anza (one of the most scenic), Meadowlark, Ohlone, Paseo del Roble, Portola Pastures, Redtail Loop, Wild Rye, Woodland Star, and Woodrat. A map of the preserve and its trails can be found here.

The next time you’re looking for a new place to explore in Palo Alto, the Pearson Arastradero Preserve is ideal for getting out into nature on foot, on a bike or on horseback.

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