Skyline Ridge Open Space: From Horseshoe Lake to Chestnut Orchard


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Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve is definitely a good place to hike in all seasons. We hike there in October because we can pick chestnuts at that time as well. We started from Horseshoe Lake, went to Alpine Pond and then the Skyline Chestnut Orchard to pick chestnut there.

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The sign above sees Sunny Jim Trail after 0.5 mile, but the official map shows Ipiwa Trail, we think that’s a mistake on the sign.

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We saw a beautiful cloud band on the sky from the Horseshoe Loop Trail, and more on the Ipiwa Trail.

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At the cross between Ipiwa Trail and Sunny Jim Trail, we turned right to Sunny Jim Trail, continuing climb up.

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Shortly we arrived at the Alpine Pond, that’s a walk only zone. David C. Daniels Nature Center is just at the corner.

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After the pond, we went on Ipiwa Trail and then Sunny Jim Trail to come back to the Horseshoe Lake, that’s only about 1.3 miles.

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There are three trees with red leaves at the Aline Pond which caught our eyes, since that’s so rare to see red color in Autumn in California.

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There is also a sign under the trees that sees not to pick and eat wild mushrooms.

After the pond, there is almost no shade on this trail, but the view is fantastic.

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At the end of the Sunny Jim Trail, turn right to the bridge of the Horseshoe Lake.

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After the bridge, go Tree Farm Trail. There is a Christmas Tree Farm.

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We went up and down on this trail and saw the wonderful cloud band again.

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At the end of the Tree Farm Trail, turn left to the Chestnut Trail. Chestnut Trail is completely shaded all the way to the Skyline Chestnut Orchard.

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In addition to chestnuts, this orchard has honey for sale as well.

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We came back from the orchard to the Horseshoe Lake as the same way we went to the orchard.

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At the Horseshoe Lake, you can go straight or turn right, which depends on where you park your car when you started the trip. As the map shown above, this open space has two parking lots.

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P.S. Beware of Snakes

On the Ipiwa Trail, there are two signs like below. So pay extra caution for rattlesnakes in warm weather.

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Though we didn’t see rattlesnakes, we did see a California Mountain Kingsnake on the Chestnut Trail. Such snakes are nonvenomous, but be careful not to disturb them.

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P.P.S Where to Park: You can drive to the orchard if you only want to pick chestnuts.

Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve
21994 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95033

Skyline Chestnuts Orchard
22322 Skyline Blvd., La Honda, CA 94020