A popular paved path with a gentle grade and some scenic views ending at the Stanford Dish.
The trail is paved with asphalt and fairly wide (10-12 feet). It's a popular area for locals. There are two cattle guards that need to be crossed, and cow pies can be found on the trail, so watch your step. It's an uphill run, but that means that coming back, it's all downhill.
The trailhead is on Alpine Road
, a short distance from I-280. There is a small parking lot and an area for people to park along the road. The parking areas can be full on the weekends and in the evenings, so be careful as you are looking for a spot.
The trail crosses Los Trances Creek on a one-lane concrete bridge. It curves to the left and passes over another branch via a wooden bridge before the trail arrives at the gate into the Stanford Dish area. Once it passes through the gate, the trail gently curves around through a shaded area until the trail begins to climb around 0.25 miles. The trail climbs a small hill and the Stanford Dish comes into view at the top of the trail. It levels out for a while as it passes a cattle guard, used to keep the cattle that graze in the area from escaping. From here, the trail climbs gently toward the Dish.
This is the area where you are mostly likely to see wildlife, and the cows that graze here throughout the year. Squirrels feed on grass seeds on either side of the trail, and can be scurrying between the entrances to their tunnels. Snakes have been known to sun themselves along the trail, and in the winter tarantulas have been seen on the trail, so watch your step. Various species of hawks can be seen gliding on the air currents as they hunt for their next meal.
As the trail climbs toward the Dish, take the opportunity to turn around and take in the view of the surrounding hills and the interstate as it makes its way north. Leveling out around 0.9 miles, the trail approaches the Stanford Dish and a maintenance building. The Dish is used for research, so you may get lucky and witness them repositioning the Dish as you run by.
From here, the trail wraps around the Dish and makes a sharp left as it approaches the next cattle guard and the Stanford Dish Loop
Trail. Views of the Stanford campus and the South Bay area lay before you, a reward for all the climbing that the trail has done.
From here, you can turn around and return to your car, or explore the Loop Trail
. The trail is a 4-mile loop that rises and falls, following the contours of the hills in the area. It's popular for Stanford students and the locals who recreate here, especially on the weekends. If you're looking for solitude, this isn't the trail for you.
There are all types of animals that call the Stanford Dish area home. Deer, coyotes, snakes, frogs, tarantulas, squirrels, and various species of hawks can be seen while continuing along the trail or on the trail itself.
Stanford leases the land around the Dish to area farmers, so cattle may be grazing in the area as well, sometimes using the trail to get from one area to another. If you move around them and don't bother them, you'll be fine.