|Educational. Shady. Easy.
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space
One of Midpenís smallest preserves, Los Trancos offers pleasant and
educational hiking for children and adults. Five miles of hiker-only
trails lead you through 274 acres of shady oak forests off of Page
Mill Road near Skyline Boulevard.
San Andreas Fault Trail
This short 1.5-mile trail straddles the San Andreas Fault. Numbered
markers and an interpretive brochure provide a self-guided lesson in
earthquake geology. (The brochures are usually available at the
trailhead, but to be sure, you can get copies by calling Midpen at
650-691-1200, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org). Docent-led hikes are
The trail starts on the left (western) side of the parking lot. You
walk up a small hill on a rocky trail to Station 1. From here, you
can see south to Mount Umunhum and Loma Prieta, 23 miles to the
south. See those boulders at your feet. According to the brochure,
they are from Loma Prieta. Water carried these boulders from our
local mountain across the San Andreas Fault to the Pacific plate,
and then thousands of earthquakes moved them to Los Trancos.
A short walk to Station 2 reveals the view to the north. We can see
Crystal Springs Reservoir, a natural depression created by an active
At Station 3, we look over a long, flat area sitting on the fault.
When sides of the fault moved farther apart, they created a long
bench resembling a roadbed. In fact, road builders have often used
these flat beds to create roads. (It works well between
Station 4 shows the offset created by the 1906 earthquake. A
reconstructed fence reflects the three-foot movement across the
Willows and brush at Station 5 indicate a wet area from a
fault-caused spring. (Itís the faultís fault.) These wet areas also
lead to landslides.
The road-like bench and sag pond at Station 6 are below another
fault featureóa pressure ridge that runs parallel to the hillís
Two oak trees, one below and one above the trail, grow sideways at
Station 7. Foothill College geologists believe that the trees fell
in the 1906 earthquake. Luckily for the trees, they kept enough root
structure to stay alive. Branches sprouted from the side to create
unusual but effective growth. It proves that even something as
rooted as a tree can be adaptable.
Landsliding or faulting has created an unusual landscape feature at
Station 8. A little valley runs parallel to the contours. Usually
created by draining water, valleys like this typically run
perpendicular to the contours. This might tell you that valleys
running parallel to contours probably are not good places to build.
By the time you reach Station 9, you will be more aware of
fault-related landscape features. At this station, see if you can
spot the road-like benches that signal past earthquakes.
The Double-loop Trails
If you would like to walk a little longer, I recommend the 2.3 mile
double loop. When you leave the Fault Trail, donít turn right on the
Franciscan Loop Trail. This turn will take you back to the parking
lot. Instead turn left.
After a few hundred feet, if you are watching carefully, you may see
to the right the outline of a concrete bunker above the trail.
Further exploration reveals that the bunker is complete with hatches
reminiscent of the TV program Lost. Although I donít recommend
opening a hatch, because Iím sure that the bunker does not contain
mysterious Lost-like rooms, the concrete slab provides an excellent
place for an impromptu picnic while looking down on passing hikers.
Continuing on the trail, you cross over a marshy area on a short
boardwalk, and on through pleasant oak and bay forest. You will come
to two intersections leading to the Page Mill Trail, but stay on the
Franciscan Loop Trail until you reach the Lost Creek Loop Trail. If
you or your fellow hikers are tired, you can continue back to the
parking area via the Franciscan Loop Trail, but I recommend taking
the Lost Creek Loop Trail. This is a lovely creekside walk of less
than a mile.
On this loop, I saw a magnificent buck challenge a younger male for
the affections of a doe. I also saw a large hawk and other critters.
I find that I see more if I occasionally stop and quietly blend in
with the forest. If you bring the kids, you may not have these
experiences, but watching them discover and learn should be well
worth sharing the walk.
To get to Los Trancos, drive north on Skyline Boulevard, then turn
right on Page Mill Road. The entrance is about one mile east on the
left. Monte Bello Open Space Preserve is across the road. Both
preserves have large parking lots.
If you have more time, take the short walk in Monte Bello to the
Vista Point. More time? From the Vista Point, walk the Stevens Creek
Nature Trail. Interpretative signs along the way provide more
information. Visit other trails at www.mnn.net.