This hike wanders through a little valley to the headwaters of Peters Creek and then out onto a ridge with striking views almost to... more » the coast. It opens with a dangerous dash across Highway 35 (often busy on weekends) but soon leaves that behind as you descend into the valley of seasonal Peters Creek and follow it upstream. As you move up towards the headwaters, the valley changes from cool and mossy to slightly drier forest, finally reaching one of the few lakes in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a man-made reservoir. The trail goes across the dam (and borders private property, please be respectful).
Leaving the lake, you climb up some switchbacks eventually reaching the preserve's namesake Long Ridge with open views to the southwest, towards some of the biggest redwood parks of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Soon you reach a granite bench dedicated to Wallace Stegner, the Stanford author and conservationist who played an important role in helping save many of these lands from development. In early spring the hillsides can be covered in a profusion of wildflowers.
Just after the bench, the trail forks, one fork seemingly leading along the ridgeline and the other dropping into the forest. The ridgeline trail only goes about 50 yards before running into a 'private property' sign and a fence, so down into the forest you go. From here you wind down towards your start; reaching a 4-way intersection in the middle of the forest. This route goes forward across the intersection, but you can also do a switchback heading down towards the Peters Creek Trail here.
Wander through the quiet forest until a descent drops you back to Peters Creek, and a short ascent back to the noise and bustle of Highway 35. less «