The Ipiwa Trail begins at a parking lot along Skyline Boulevard and works its way along Butano Ridge until it emerges at Alpine Pond near Russian Ridge OSP. The trail weaves in and out of oak forests and meadows while providing sweeping views of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Leaving the parking lot, the trail breaks off to the right and climbs into an oak forest where large trees provide shade, even in the middle of the day. The singletrack dirt trail meanders uphill and emerges from the woods as the trail crosses the Sunny Jim Trail
. If you take this trail to the left, you can make it back to your car in another 0.7 miles making a nice 1.2 mile loop.
After crossing the Sunny Jim Trail
, the trail climbs gently through a meadow until it reaches the high point at 0.8 miles. From here, the trail begins descending along Butano Ridge, weaving in and out of oak woods. Sweeping views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean in the distance can be viewed on the left-hand side of the trail. Flowers can be seen on the side of the trail through this section, and provide color even late into the summer. The trail passes through an old fence line and passes some old farm buildings on the right-hand side of the trail before the trail crosses the Sunny Jim Trail
again at roughly 1.4 miles. After crossing the trail again, the trail ends at the David C. Daniels Nature Center at Alpine Pond.
From here, you can explore the pond area or follow a short connector trail that leads into Russian Ridge OSP. In order to get back to your car, you can follow the trail back to your car or take the Sunny Jim Trail
, which runs higher along the ridge you just traversed back to the parking area.
Because the trail moves through fields and woods, this is a nice hike at any time of the day as the trees provide relief from the sun.
Wildflowers can be seen along the side of the trail throughout the year. Deer can be seen feeding in the evenings. Lizards can be seen scurrying for cover as you approach, and signs warn of rattlesnakes along the trail. Hawks can be seen flying overhead as you enter the woods.