Alpine Road: Gateway to Two Open Space Preserves

The entrance to the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve and where you will be parking for this stop.

Parking for the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is on Alpine Road, right after the turnoff from Highway 35. Photo: Julia Gaudinski

Right off of California’s Highway 35, Alpine Road passes Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve and Skyline Ridge Preserve on its route from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Alpine Road probably began as a Native American walking trail and later became a way for Mexican Rancheros and then loggers to cross over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today, it’s a favorite trip for motorists.

Alpine Road, within the South Skyline Region in the Santa Cruz Mountains, along the San Francisco Peninsula. Original Map © Eric Goetze, courtesy of Eric Isacson.

The old route of Alpine Road. Today’s Alpine Road is no longer continuous. It has been closed in parts for the Coal Creek Open Space Preserve. On the east, it was superseded by Page Mill Road, and it now connects to that road. Original map by Eric Goetze, modified and provided courtesy of Eric Isacson

The name “Alpine” is said to be derived from a Californio-owned ranch on the west side called “El Pino” (the pine tree). In the 1830s, it became a wagon road between the two ranchos granted to Antonio Buelna and was known as “The Old Spanish Trail.” When logging gained traction, it became a primary route used to access the redwoods west of the summit.

View over Portola Valley from Russian Ridge. Photo by Jeff.

The view toward the ocean from Russian Ridge. Photo: Jeff Vier CC BY-SA 2.0.

Two Adjacent Preserves

A tunnel from the parking lot of the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve leads to the lovely spring-fed Alpine Pond and the David C. Daniels Nature Center in the adjacent Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. Both of these preserves offer extensive trails and beautiful views. If you visit Russian Ridge, be sure to stop by the nature center for a historical overview and biology lesson about the pond.

The tunnel that leads to Alpine Pond.

The tunnel that leads to Alpine Pond from the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve Parking lot on Alpine Road. Photo: Julia Gaudinski

Alpine Pond next to the the Daniels Nature Center. It's an easy walk from the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot off Alpine Road.

Alpine Pond next to the the Daniels Nature Center. It’s an easy walk from the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot off Alpine Road. Photo: Julia Gaudinski

Read the rest of the story to learn about Skyline Ridge Preserve and to discover what Seabiscuit, the famous race horse, has to do with this area, at mobileranger.com.

Take the Self-Guided Mobile Tour

This piece is part of the South Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) Tour made possible by Janet Schwind of the Skyline Historical Society. Download the free app with many tours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond at mobileranger.com.

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Julia Gaudinski


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