“A shaded loop through an oak forest with views of the San Francisco Bay Area.”
— David Hitchcock
Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The preserve is open year round from dawn until half an hour after sunset.
The Clouds Rest-!Meadow Trail Loop combines the Clouds Rest, Alpine Road, and Meadow Trails to form a lollipop loop through Coal Creek Open Preserve. The trail descends along a road before moving along an open field where deer, coyotes, and rabbits can be seen feeding in the mornings and the evenings. Entering the woods, the trail descends to the old Alpine Road and then climbs back into the preserve along the old road. Providing a shaded route even in the middle of the day, the Alpine Road and Meadow Trail
portions of the hike provide pleasant cover as you loop back toward your vehicle. The best views of the South Bay area are located along Clouds Rest Trail
in the open field area. Even though the Clouds Rest Trail
and Meadow Trail
aren't heavily traveled, the Alpine Road Trail
is popular with mountain bikers, so be on the lookout for cyclists coming down the trail.
Parking for this trail is located at Vista Point
along Skyline Boulevard opposite of Russian Ridge Preserve. The trail descends along a singletrack from the left side of the parking area to the Clouds Rest Road. Follow the gravel road to the right as it descends past private homes on the left side of the road.
At roughly .3 miles, the trail passes through a gate system and transforms into a dirt track. In another .1 mile, the Meadow Trail
continues straight ahead while the Clouds Rest Trail
breaks off to the left. A small singletrack (Clouds Rest Alternate Trail
) breaks off to the right and leads through the fields out to a point that overlooks the South Bay Area before descending back to the main Clouds Rest Trail
. The trail descends steeply at this point, with views of private residences off to the left before passing a power tower at .8 miles and entering the woods. At this point, the trail is shaded and relatively quiet.
Emerging at the junction with the Alpine Road Trail
, be on the lookout for cyclists coming down from Page Mill Road. Follow the trail to the right as it climbs gently uphill through the woods. The trail is fairly wide as it follows an old road trail, but most of the traffic follows a narrow area heavily traveled by cyclists.
Climbing gently for about half a mile, the trail finally meets up with the junction of the Meadow Trail
, which breaks off to the right and climbs along the ridge. The trail narrows at this point and climbs through a forest of moss-covered trees. Mushrooms can be seen growing along the trail before it finally emerges in an area of shrubs and young trees. The canopy opens up, and the trail is eroded in places through this section of the loop.
The trail then re-enters the woods at 1.8 miles before climbing steeply for about a tenth of a mile. The trail begins to level out before emerging back at the junction with the Clouds Rest Trail
. From here, follow the trail back up the road to the parking lot where you parked. Enjoy the views at the Vista Point
as you catch your breath, stretch, and prepare to leave.
Flora & Fauna
Deer, coyote, rabbits, hawks, and turkey vultures can be seen in the open areas of the preserve. The rest of the loop leads through the woods, providing the chance to see oak trees and various other plants common in oak forests.