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Winter walks at Windy Hill, south of San Francisco.

The bald noggin of Windy Hill is a notable departure from the surrounding landscape. Its treeless form sticks out like a beacon on the forested ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Above Portola Valley 30 miles south of San Francisco, Windy Hill is frequently blasted by westerlies flattening its mantle of high grass. Some 650 acres here are now protected as the recently opened Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, and on clear winter days the view is spectacular. Although only 1,900 feet high, the hill sits in a small saddle on the ridge and so offers views out to the coast as well as the valley and bay to the east. On most Sundays, you can watch nonmotorized model gliders circling the crest.

You can picnic in a small sheltered meadow or take the 8.2-mile Windy Hill Trail which follows old ranch roads, heads down to Corte Madera Creek, then climbs back up through oak and Douglas fir along Hamms Gulch (dress warmly). Volunteers helped cut the trail system, and donations from the Peninsula Open Space Trust helped create the preserve.

This Midpeninsula Open Space District preserve is the latest of some dozen park and open space lands along Skyline Boulevard from State 84 south to State 17--what some planners hope may become the Skyline Scenic Corridor, a 25-mile stretch of hikable open lands. The preserve is on Skyline Boulevard, 5 miles south of La Honda Road.
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Date:Feb 1, 1984
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