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green Upper Lake Loop Trail


0.2 mile 0.4 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 5' 1 m
Descent: -4' -1 m
High: 983' 300 m
Low: 978' 298 m


Avg Grade: 1% (0°)
Max Grade: 1% (1°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by David Hitchcock

An interpretive trail around the Upper Lake providing history and ecosystems found in the area.

David Hitchcock

Features Birding · Lake · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly The short 0.2 mile trail allows you to explore the nature and history of the area. Turtles may be seen in the lake, frogs heard in the evenings, and turkeys feeding in the evenings.

Bear Creek Redwood Open Space Preserve is open from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.

Need to Know

There are restrooms onsite close to the parking area. There are maps that go into greater detail concerning the interpretive walk located at the informational signs in the parking lot.


The Upper Lake Loop Trail is a wide, paved interpretive trail that runs around Upper Lake, an old millpond during the logging days in the mid 1800s. There are a couple of interpretive signs around the lake, and the park map has additional information on sights that you'll encounter as you stroll around the lake. The trail provides insight to how the area has been in various ages, and allows you to encounter aquatic animals as you wonder. The maps in the parking lot provide information on 9 specific areas that highlight historical and ecological value of the preserve.

1. The first stop describes the reptiles and amphibians that you might see in the lake as you make your way around it. Turtles, salamanders, and newts are described in detail.

2. Ohlone Mortars, used by the Ohlone Indians to grind grass seeds and acorns into flour, sit on the side of the trail. Moved from other areas as a landscaping element in the "estate period."

3. The logging of the redwoods is described in detail.

4. The water systems were dramatically altered starting in the mid 1800s. Webb Creek was dammed to expand Upper Lake for milling purposes. Estate Owner Dr. Harry L. Tevis made the lake deeper and wider, as well as constructing cisterns to help keep his gardens lush.

5. St. Joseph's Shrine was built in the early days of Alma College and once housed a statue of St. Joseph. You can see the remnants of the shrine here.

6. Bear Creek Redwoods OSP is shaped by the San Andreas Fault, which helped form the Upper Lake and ridges above you.

7. The tension between native and non-native plants which were added during the "estate period" is described.

8. Roses from Dr. Tevis' gardens, as well as his love of horticulture, are described in detail. Here you can see the roses, especially as they bloom in the spring.

9. The last stop describes the importance and mission of the Midpeninsula Open Space District and POST to preserve these ecosystems instead of letting them be developed for future generations to enjoy. The work of these two organizations, as well as generous private donations allowed this preserve to be created in 1999.

Flora & Fauna

Bear Creek Redwood Preserve is home to a diverse set of animals. Black-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, mallard ducks, bullfrogs, western pond turtles, various species of bats, Santa Cruz black salamanders, California giant salamanders, turkeys, red-shouldered hawks, and other migratory birds can be seen seen throughout the preserve.

Redwood trees, Douglas Firs, and oak trees can be seen in the area. Blackberry bushes and rose bushes can be seen along portions of the trail.

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