Sunset-watching at Russian Ridge
One of the things I love about California are the multitude of parks and nature preserves. Everywhere you turn there's another hundred acres roped off for conservation and recreation. It's almost overwhelming- so many trails to hike, so many hills to climb, I'll never be able to finish them all! As someone who passionately loves being out in the heart of nature, this is the perfect region for a quick escape into the hills and woods surrounding the Bay Area. One of my favorites is Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. It's a lot less crowded than some of the other parks I've hiked in this area, and yet it has easily accessible views of Silicon Valley right off the parking lot. So on a day when I just want to soak up the sun on a gorgeous vista without a grueling two-hour hike to the summit, I can drive right up to Russian Ridge. However be warned- the winding road to the summit parking lot is not for the faint of heart, it's about a 30 minute drive of twisting switchbacks up the foothills. But if you can stomach the car-sickness, the view is definitely worth it, on a clear day you can see 40 miles to San Francisco! This afternoon the weather was indecisive, with dark stormy clouds rolling in and out over the otherwise sunny hills. I almost called it quits at sunset as the sun was dipping behind the clouds, but then caught this amazing pink glow that overtook the valley- catching the fog and illuminating some deer grazing on the hillside.