Rounded hills.
Emerald greens.
Splendid views.

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve
Neil Wiley


Sometimes you walk miles to pick up pennies while ignoring jewels at your feet. How did I hike so many miles without visiting Fremont Older?
This open space preserve has it all. Sensuous, rounded hills. Grasses of emerald green. And splendid views of the entire San Francisco Bay peninsula.

Best of all, itís accessibleóa short and easy drive to Saratoga. Simply drive over to Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road (De Anza Boulevard), go north to Prospect Avenue, turn left, and follow Prospect across the railroad tracks, then left at the junction with Rolling Hills. Within less than two miles, you are at the preserve entrance and parking lot.

This 739-acre preserve is named for Fremont Older, a noted San Francisco newspaper editor who owned much of this property for sixty years. His house has been restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Open to hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians, the preserve offers nine miles of trails. (Leashed dogs are allowed on all trails.) I took the popular hike that takes you from the preserve entrance up and over a green hill to Hunters Point and around the Seven Springs Trail loop.

My hike.
The trailhead for the Hunters Point loop, just to the right of two information boards and a map holder, led to a moderate climb up the single-track Cora Older Trail. I had just turned the first switchback when I encountered a small herd of deer below the trail in a forest of live oaks and California bays. We were all startled, but only for a moment. The deer returned to grazing and I continued uphill.

The forest gave way to an open hillside. Looking up I saw another deer silhouetted on the ridge line. (Although this preserve is surrounded by private homes, nature has stocked it with lots of critters. In addition to deer, I saw rabbits, squirrels, and many birds, including meadowlarks.)
As I got higher up the trail, I could look back toward our mountains to see Mount Umunhum under heavy, dark clouds. I followed Seven Springs Trail back down into a shady forest of oak and buckeye. A short walk through a beautiful little valley was followed by a climb up a gentle grade through tall eucalyptus and walnut trees. As I reached the ridge, I could look down on the whole urban peninsula. But this view was only a preview for the main attraction.

Further along the trail, a short 100-foot detour off the main trail took me to the top of 900-foot high Hunters Point. Although low compared to our mountains, Hunters Point offered a 360-degree view, covering Mount Tamalpais, Mount Diablo, the East Bay hills, San Francisco Bay, our own Mount Umunhum/Loma Prieta range, the Saratoga foothills, and the coastal range. Although spinning in a circle made me a bit dizzy, it was a spectacular view. To make it even better, a low fence provided a table for my current addictions: a Pink Lady apple and handfuls of tamari-covered almonds. I would have enjoyed a longer lunch, but threatening storm clouds encouraged a move back down the hill, then west to Hayfield Trail. Helpful signs led me back to the parking area.

Choose your hike.
The Hunters Point loop is a nice, easy hike when you donít have time for a day-long trip. You can hike the 3.1 mile loop in two to three hours. Easy to climb hills offer little challenge for families and leashed dogs, but bikers and equestrians may find it too short. You can extend the trip by continuing down Hayfield Trail west to Coyote Ridge Trail and Maisieís Peak. You can take your adventure even further by linking up with trails in Stevens Creek County Park and Picchetti Rand Open Space Preserve. "

This is an especially good trail for hiking in the winter when grasses are greener, the views are clearer, and open spaces less hot. Enjoy.
Fremont Older maps and descriptions are available from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. Call 650-691-1200, email info@openspace.org, or visit their website: www.openspace.org. For more comprehensive information about Midpen preserves and trails, get David Weintraubís new book, Peninsula Tales & Trails. Itís available at local bookstores and amazon.com.

 

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